Lansing, Michigan Birth Injury Lawyers
Representing Victims of Medical Malpractice in Lansing, MI and the Surrounding Areas
Lansing medical centers are known for their staff’s pursuit of quality medical care and dedication to patient safety. However, even the most well-trained physicians can make errors in the course of their duties. In some cases, these mistakes go unnoticed. In other cases, these mistakes can result in injury. For newborn infants whose brains and tissues are still in the earliest stages of development, such errors can lead to severe developmental delays, lasting disability, and a need for lifelong care.
If you or a family member suffered a birth injury, you can ask for the help of a personal injury attorney to secure compensation for the care needed to mitigate the damage caused by medical errors. Contact the law offices of Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers, whether you are in Lansing, East Lansing, Kalamazoo, Northern Michigan, the Upper Peninsula, or any other Michigan city – we can travel to you and help you determine the right course of action for your child.
Lansing Hospitals, Medical Centers and NICUs
Not every hospital is equipped to help the most fragile or ill of newborns, as different neonatal intensive care units are categorized differently. NICUs are categorized from Level I to Level III or Level IV, depending on the state. Infants with birth injuries can sometimes need highly specialized care, including (but not limited to) hypothermia therapy, ventilation, seizure monitoring and management, and/or surgical interventions for certain health issues.
While the following is not a comprehensive list of medical centers in the area surrounding Lansing, it is a starting point for parents researching a particular hospital’s capabilities for taking care of critically ill newborns:
- Sparrow Health Care: The Sparrow NICU provide NICU care for the Mid-Michigan region, and their pediatric rehabilitation services can provide developmental assessments for children and help children with disabilities develop their physical and occupational skills, learn how to properly chew and swallow, and learn other important life tasks. Sparrow Hospital is designated as a Blue Distinction Center+ by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) in Maternity Care. The hospital has several locations, including in Lansing, St. Johns, Carson City, and Ionia.
- McLaren of Greater Lansing: McLaren provides birthing services at their Family BirthPlace in eight different Michigan locations. McLaren also offers pediatric rehabilitation services and is in a partnership with Michigan State University to develop the Osteopathic National Center for Orthopedic Research (ONCOR). McLaren Lansing’s Rehabilitation and Therapy Services offers programs for CP in a setting that feels like home. Specialists meet regularly with each child in order to target the child’s specific goals. Specialists in the program include physical therapists, speech language pathologists, athletic trainers, social workers, recreation therapists and psychologists who take a holistic approach to treatment.
To find other NICU locations in the state of Michigan, please see the following links:
- Self-designated NICU levels of care (Michigan.gov)
- Michigan Birthing Hospitals (Michigan.gov, updated 3/6/2017).
Lansing Universities and Research Centers
There are several universities and research centers participating in medical and scientific research in Lansing, but the most significant is the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, which performs research in numerous areas, including in diabetes, obesity, surgery, and cardiovascular disorders. Michigan State University also recently partnered with Sparrow Hospital to create the Center for Innovation and Research. The university also has programs in neonatology (which help care for infants in Sparrow Hospital’s Level III NICU), and a unit of obstetrics and gynecology that focuses on multiple areas of maternal-fetal medicine, including uterine biology and maternal-fetal interactions. It is also involved in expanding pediatric research in partnership with Spectrum Health’s Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Lansing Military Hospitals
While Lansing does not directly have a military medical center, the closest facility is the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw. Under some circumstances, individuals who have given birth at a military medical facility and had a child who sustained a birth injury can seek to file a lawsuit under an act called the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Military hospitals do not allow active-duty service members to file suits against them, though their spouses and dependents can. Differences such as these require birth injury attorneys who understand both birth injury and military medical malpractice; Reiter & Walsh, P.C. has the experience and credentials needed to litigate these cases.
Lansing Birth Injuries
Birth injuries can impact a child’s physical, emotional, and mental health, and can lead to developmental delays, intellectual and learning disabilities, or cerebral palsy. The extent to which a birth injury can impact a child’s functional ability varies vastly – some children with birth injuries do not have any functional impairments or very mild ones, while for some children, the outcomes can be very severe, requiring around-the-clock medical care and therapy.
It can be difficult to evaluate the extent of a child’s injuries immediately, as it is common that some developmental delays don’t show up until the child is age two or older, or, in some cases, when the child reaches school age and begins to struggle with learning. It is important to speak to a birth injury attorney as soon as you suspect a birth injury, because different states have different time limits (called statutes of limitations) for when a lawsuit can be filed.
There are certain standards of care that medical staff should follow in providing care to mothers and children during pregnancy, birth and delivery. No parent wants to believe that a doctor may make a mistake during their child’s gestation or birth, but errors do occur. Parents should know that there are legal options for pursuing justice.
There are some diagnoses and events that parents should look out for, as the presence of these conditions can indicate that medical malpractice did occur:
- Traumatic birth: If a labor and delivery is traumatic (due to prolonged/stalled labor, the use of vacuum extractors and/or forceps, or the overuse of delivery drugs like Pitocin or Oxytocin, for example), the baby is more likely to have brain bleeds or periods of oxygen deprivation or other injuries. If labor becomes stalled, a C-section may be needed to prevent injury from oxygen deprivation or other factors.
- Fetal distress: During labor and delivery if a baby’s heart rate drops significantly and doesn’t recover, it is very likely the baby is having fetal distress, a medical emergency which is a reaction to oxygen deprivation. If oxygen deprivation goes on long enough, the baby may develop hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which must be treated with hypothermia therapy within 6 hours of birth. Fetal distress can trigger the baby to have a bowel movement in the amniotic sac. Because the baby breathes in amniotic fluid, it can be at risk for inhaling stool, which is an infection hazard and can interfere with breathing. Babies in distress should be delivered quickly via C-section to prevent further damage.
- Seizures: Seizures are one of the most common indicators of brain damage in a baby. They are caused by abnormal electrical patterns in the brain, which often stem from damaged neuronal tissue. Sometimes seizures are visible, but sometimes they are only detectable using continuous EEG testing. Seizures should be carefully monitored and treated in order to prevent them from worsening existing damage.
- Brain bleeds: Newborn babies’ brains can be very fragile, especially if they are small, premature or have a traumatic birth. Brain bleeds can often cause (or be the cause of) HIE, periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), and hydrocephalus, so it is important that medical staff follow standards of care to prevent brain bleeds from occurring. If they do occur, brain imaging can be recommended to assess what kind of therapy and treatment a child may need to minimize disability and help the child developmentally as soon as possible.
- Cerebral palsy: This motor disorder can show up as an early preference for one side of the body over another, or via excessive muscle tightness or limpness. Cerebral palsy can sometimes be traced back to an underlying injury to the motor centers, which interfere with proper signaling to the muscles. This can often be traced back to HIE.
- Low blood sugar: It is absolutely critical that a baby’s rapidly developing brain have an uninterrupted supply of blood sugar that is neither too low or too high. Some babies (especially those that are very large or very small for their gestational age (macrosomic babies and very low birth weight or premature babies, respectively) are prone to developing low blood sugar and can require additional monitoring and feeding. If blood sugar is too low for too long, brain cells become deprived of their only energy source and start to die off. If a baby is in the NICU, medical staff should watch these babies and ensure they are receiving proper nutrition.
- High-risk pregnancy: Mothers with certain diagnosed health conditions are ‘high-risk,’ meaning that it is more likely they will have complications or other health issues during pregnancy. Women with diabetes, preeclampsia, obesity, hypertension, and other conditions should be referred to a maternal-fetal specialist who can conduct more frequent monitoring to ensure the pregnancy goes smoothly. One of the most common trends we see in birth injury litigation is high-risk patients not being monitored or treated as high-risk patients. It is important that women with high-risk pregnancy be informed by their physician of their status so they can get proper maternal-fetal care.
- Infection, sepsis, meningitis, encephalitis and pneumonia: If the mother has an infection such as group B strep or a UTI that goes undiagnosed, this could be passed to the baby during a vaginal birth or when her membranes break. Depending on the type of infection, it may be safer to deliver via C-section before the membranes break. For certain infections, mothers can be placed on antibiotics or antiviral medication prior to labor and delivery to suppress the infection and prevent passage to the baby. If a baby is suspected of having an infection after birth (such as meningitis or pneumonia), treatment should be initiated quickly to prevent tissue inflammation and other complication, as these can result in seizures or developmental delays as the child grows.
- Jaundice and kernicterus: When a baby is born, they can sometimes develop jaundice (yellowish skin and eyes). In some cases, this can resolve on its own, but there are certain cases where the baby may need help, in which case they are placed under a special set of lights or under a fiber-optic blanket to help them break down excess bilirubin. If jaundice goes untreated or is treated improperly, excess bilirubin can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause irreversible brain damage called kernicterus. This is medical negligence, as kernicterus is the result of a condition that was not properly caught in time or treated.
- Placental abruption or uterine rupture: These two conditions relate to maternal bleeding. Placental abruption occurs when the placenta detaches from the uterus, while uterine rupture occurs when the uterus tears through its layers. Both have the potential to become very seriously immediately, as both can cause massive bleeding in both the mother and the child. Bleeding can then result in blood pressure to the baby dropping, which can cause oxygen deprivation-related injuries.
- Breech or face presentation: It is often safer to deliver babies who have malpresentation via C-section because of the risk of traumatic birth, which can increase the risk that a baby will have brain bleeds and/or swelling of the face or upper airways, which can prevent proper breathing.
- Short or long umbilical cord, knots in the umbilical cord, and cord around the baby’s neck (nuchal cord): The umbilical cord is the baby’s only method of exchanging oxygen, nutrients and waste products. Umbilical cord issues of any type can compromise the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the baby and lead to HIE, cerebral palsy and developmental delays. Umbilical cord issues can often be diagnosed via ultrasound testing, and should be addressed by maternal-fetal medicine specialists.
Our Experience and Recognition in Birth Injury Litigation
ABC Law Centers’ attorneys and in-house medical staff focus solely on birth injury, providing with the experience needed to win these complex and medically detailed cases. The firm consults with medical specialists and subspecialists, forensic experts, life care planning economists and other medical experts to build strong cases and help families secure their children’s future.
Contact Reiter & Walsh Today | Trusted Lansing Birth Injury Attorneys
The Lansing birth injury attorneys at our law firm focus solely on birth injury cases, which means that we have a thorough knowledge of the complex medical content associated with birth injury cases, plus top-notch, award-winning medical, economic and forensics experts at our side. Contact us online for a free consultation or call us at 888-419-2229.
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