Birth injuries are not uncommon. Many birth injuries are considered minor and heal with little or no medical intervention. Other birth injuries are more serious and require intensive medical treatment.
Baby Head Injuries
baby head injuries, like other birth injuries, range the gambit from minor to catastrophic. Minor baby head injuries include swelling of the scalp and bruising.
More serious baby head injuries include:
- Cephalohematoma – This is an accumulation of blood under one of the skull bones which usually heals on its own in a few weeks to a few months time;
- Skull Fractures – This occurs when on or more of the bones of the skull are broken during delivery. Skull fractures rarely occur and heal quickly without medical treatment. An indented skull fracture is more serious and takes longer to heal;
- Bleeding in the Brain – Bleeding in the brain, also known as a intracranial hemorrhage, is caused when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. Bleeding in the brain is caused by inadequate blood flow to the brain or a diminished amount of oxygen in the blood.
Bleeding in the brain is classified into three categories:
- Subarachnoid Hemorrhages - This is the most common intracranial hemorrhage. They occur most often in full term births and may result in seizures during the first few days of life.
- Subdural Hemorrhages – Subdural hemorrhages are much more serious than subarachnoid hemorrhages and require surgical intervention. They cause pressure on the brain and are usually accompanied by seizures and high bilirubin levels.
- Intraventricular and Intraparenchymal Hemorrhages – Intraventricular hemorrhages occur in the ventricles of the brain and intraparenchymal hemorrhages occur in the brain tissue. Both occur most frequently in very premature babies with underdeveloped brains.
- Cerebral Palsy - Cerebral palsy is one of the most serious baby head injuries. Cerebral palsy inhibits or impairs the brain's ability to control muscle and motor movements. It can be diagnosed immediately after birth, but may not be diagnosed until the baby is a few years old.
Baby head injuries often occur as a result of medical malpractice. An act or a failure to act by a medical professional may be considered medical malpractice.
One of the most difficult tasks in a birth injury lawsuit is determining exactly what occurred during the delivery and who was responsible for what occurred. Typically the physician who delivered the baby, the nurses who were present during the delivery, and the hospital are named as defendants in birth injury lawsuits.
- The Physician – The doctor who delivered the baby may be liable for the birth injury if he failed to exercise the same standard of care that another physician under similar circumstances would have exercised. The doctor may also be responsible for the acts or omissions of the nurses, residents, interns, and other physicians under his authority during the delivery.
- The Nurses – Nurses may be liable if their acts or omissions resulted in a birth injury. Nurses are held to a standard of care similar to that to which physicians are held.
- The Hospital – Hospitals must exercise the same standard of care that other hospitals under similar circumstances would exercise in caring for patients. Hospitals may be liable for the negligence of the doctors, nurses and technicians on staff as well as for those working as independent contractors. Hospitals may also be liable under the theory of corporate negligence for the acts it undertakes in running its business, including hiring and firing decisions, decisions to deny medical treatment, and decisions regarding maintenance of medical equipment and the medical facility itself.
Getting Legal Help
Birth injury lawsuits are very complex and require specialized expertise. Therefore, if your baby suffered a birth injury, you should contact an experienced birth injury attorney who will evaluate your case and recommend a course of action.