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Doctor Negligence During Delivery of Babies Can Cause Brain Injuries

Victor Lewin - Friday, April 20, 2012

Babies are born every day in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI. While the birth of a new baby is usually one of the joyful moments in parents' life, tragically, there are times when that happiness can become catastrophic. All too often, as a result of the negligence a doctor or nurse, things go wrong in the hours or days before a birth causing lifelong permanent injuries to the child.

Because so many things can go wrong, mothers and babies need extra attention in the final stages of pregnancy and in the hours that lead up to delivery. Problems too often occur in a hospital delivery room, when the baby's injury is the avoidable result of negligent conduct by a doctor or nurse, or both.

There are many ways that birth injuries can occur. Injuries caused by a lack of oxygen are the most common. A lack of oxygen may cause an injury in a number of different ways. It may be the result of a lack of blood flow to the tissues (ischemia) or a lack of oxygen within the blood (hypoxia) or a combination of the two.

A baby who does not get enough oxygen during the labour and delivery process will usually demonstrate fetal distress. In the face of fetal distress, doctors and nurses are required to act with haste or else tragedy will occur. Brain injuries associated with oxygen deprivation are usually preventable. Through monitoring (usually by electronic fetal monitoring), fetal distress can often be picked up at an early stage and steps can be taken to have the baby delivered urgently in order to avoid any injury.

If oxygen deprivation goes undetected, or if the doctors and nurses do not act with appropriate urgency, a baby will likely sustain a brain injury. After birth, the baby may show low apgar scores. The baby may require resuscitation before he or she is able to breathe on his or her own. The baby may have poor tone, poor colour, a poor cry, poor suck, have a need for tube feeding, and/or have persistent abnormal tone. Seizures are often associated with fetal brain injuries. Such injured babies may require medications like Phenobarbital for seizures or antibiotics like Ampicillin and Gentamicin.

Babies who have suffered a brain injury may undergo extensive testing after birth. Abnormal blood gasses, x-rays, CT scans and MRIs may each be indicators of a brain injury.

Some babies with brain injury may have blindness or other vision deficits, epilepsy, quadriplegia or developmental delays. Some have more subtle injuries, which may not be as outwardly obvious but may still be very serious or disabling.

The costs of providing the life-long care and rehabilitation that a child with a brain injuryneeds can be huge. In addition, that child may not be able to grow up to be independent, or to earn a living in the future. A legal action may provide the funding needed to ensure that an injured child is properly taken care of in the future.

All too often babies in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI are born with preventable brain injuries. The experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Wagners have acted on behalf of many of their families and are pleased to have been able to achieve excellent results for many of them. Such funding will help the injured babies receive treatment and care suitable for their needs and, as best as possible, help them take steps to live with a degree of functional independence as they grow into adults.

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