Our Philadelphia birth injury lawyers will review you and your infant’s medical file to determine whether a doctor may have committed medical malpractice. Jim McEldrew is a Past President of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association and has been handling cases of medical malpractice and birth injuries for more than 20 years.
Our law firm handles wrongful death and other personal injury cases against hospitals and doctors for injuries to the baby and mother including cases of cerebal palsy, placental abruption, uterine rupture, Erb’s Palsy, shoulder dystocia, fetal acidosis, pre-eclampsia and delayed caesarean sections. For a free initial legal consultation with our attorneys, call 1-800-590-4116.
Potential Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for Injuries During Birth or Pregnancy:
Cerebral Palsy is the most common childhood motor disability. Around 750,000 individuals have CP symptoms and 8,000 to 10,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. It is a movement, muscle or posture disorder caused by damage to the developing brain or abnormal brain development. As a result, muscle control by the brain is impaired. Involuntary movements, unsteady gait, muscle stiffness, eye muscle imbalance, difficulty swallowing, exaggerated reflexes, abnormal posture and floppy or rigid limbs develop. Some individuals with cerebral palsy may be deaf, blind, epileptic, be unable to walk or have intellectual disabilities. There are four main types of CP: spastic cerebral palsy, dyskinetic cerebral palsy, ataxic cerebral palsy and mixed CP. There is no cure for the condition but treatment can improve the child’s life.
There are several possible reasons for the development of cerebral palsy in a child. Some are congenital and there is nothing a doctor could do. However, cerebral palsy can be caused by birth injury prior to or during delivery due to the malpractice of the healthcare provider. If your infancy is diagnosed with cerebral palsy and your doctor failed to detect an infection during pregnancy, failed to monitor the fetal heart rate, failed to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord, failed to perform or delayed a c-section or made other mistakes such as the negligent use of a vacuum or forceps during delivery, then you may be able to seek compensation for the child’s injuries. The average lifetime care cost for an individual with cerebral palsy is around $1 million. A review of the medical files by a medical malpractice lawyer can assist you in determining whether you should bring a lawsuit.
Fetal Acidosis is a type of birth injury involving high acidity in an unborn baby’s blood. It happens when an infant is deprived of oxygen during of following delivery. A baby with acidosis can have severe complications, including brain injury and death, if the condition is not treated. It can be caused by a number of complications during delivery, including compression of the umbilical cord, an umbilical cord wrapped around the infant’s neck, shoulder dystocia, cephalopelvic disproportion, macrosomia, and obstructed delivery or a child lodged in the birth canal. The results of fetal acidosis can be severe. A lack of oxygen can result in fluctuating heart rates, cerebral palsy, meconium aspiration syndrome, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, petriventricular leukomalacia, seizure disorders, mental retardation, delayed development and paralysis.
The failure to diagnose or appropriately respond to fetal acidosis may be medical malpractice. The improper administration of Pitocin or Cytotec to induce labor, delivery complications due to miscalculation of a baby’s size, and failure to address fetal conditions that can result in oxygen deprivation, such as macrosomia and cephalopelvic disproportion. Failure to respond to signs of oxygen deprivation, administer oxygen, address obstructed deliveries or a delay in performing a C-section may also be negligent. Other potential sources include the failure to diagnose medical conditions such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes that make fetal acidosis more likely, or the failure to properly use fetal monitoring equipment.
Failure to Diagnose Pre-Eclampsia
Preeclampsia is a condition in pregnant women characterized by high blood pressure and high protein levels in the urine. It typically develops in the second half of the pregnancy and the only solution is to deliver the baby. Untreated, it can be fatal both to the baby and the mother. Preeclampsia may result in lack of blood flow to the placenta, placental abruption, HELLP syndrome, eclampsia and even future cardiovascular disease in the mother. If the doctor’s failure to induce birth or perform a timely C-section results in injury to either the baby or the mother, a medical malpractice lawsuit can be brought against the doctor and the hospital to recover compensation for the damages. The condition was formerly known as toxemia.
A tear in the wall of the uterus from the force of contractions during active labor can result in the death of either the mother or the baby. Known medically as a uterine rupture, it happens in up to 1% of pregnancies with prior cesarean sections. As such, a woman desiring vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) must be closely monitored. It is distinguishable from uterine dehiscence, where the peritoneum remains intact and there is significantly less bleeding. A uterine rupture will be treated with an emergency cesarean section if the baby has not been delivered, a laparotomy and uterus repair, and possibly even a hysterectomy if the bleeding cannot be stopped. Uterine rupture is a dangerous condition that can result in the wrongful death of the mother due to excessive bleeding or stillbirth of the baby because of hemorrhage or anoxic brain injury. It could also end in cerebral palsy or development delays.
Placental abruption involves the partial or complete separation of the baby’s placenta from the uterus wall prior to birth. It is most common in the last trimester a few weeks before the due date. It may result in lack of oxygen and nutrients to the infant and serious bleeding in the mother. Placental abruption happens in roughly 1 percent of pregnancies and is the cause of premature births in about 10 percent of cases. In cases of moderate to severe abruption, an immediate birth is usually necessary in order to prevent further injury to the child. In minor abruptions, the birth may be delayed in order to allow further development of the infant and treatment with corticosteroids to speed development but the risk is that the abruption will get worse. An abruption can result in brain damage, birth defects and even death to a baby. It can cause the mother to suffer hemorrhaging, infection and uterine scarring that may require a hysterectomy. A medical professional may have engaged in medical malpractice if they miss the diagnosis of a placental abruption or delay a necessary emergency C-section.
Caesarean sections are a surgical alternative to vaginal delivery that are often scheduled in advance because of medical indication or convenience. Complications during labor or delivery may require a doctor to perform an emergency C-section on women who would prefer vaginal delivery in order to prevent injury to the child or mother. Fetal distress, placental abruption and maternal blood loss or just a few of the reasons that this procedure might be performed. The delay of a necessary C-section due to any number of reasons could be malpractice. A doctor may have committed medical malpractice if a reasonably competent doctor would have performed a C-section and your doctor did not. The delay of an emergency Cesarian section may happen because of the doctor or hospital’s negligence if the hospital is understaffed, the doctor fails to detect sign of distress, the doctor isn’t properly monitoring conditions, the doctor misses health problems or the hospital has insurance concerns. There may also be negligence if the time between decision to incision is more than 30 minutes in emergent cesarean delivery.
Erb’s Palsy is an injury to the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that goes from the spinal cord, between the bones of the neck, behind the clavicle and to the arm. Erb’s Palsy is frequently caused by the stretching of an infant’s neck to the side during delivery. It may also be caused by pulling excessively on the shoulders during a head first delivery or by raised arms during a breech birth. One or two babies out of a thousand births will have the injury. The condition results in weakness or paralysis of the arm. When it affects the upper arm, it is known as a brachial plexus injury. When it affects the hand, it is referred to as Klumpke paralysis. If the nerves are torn or the injury results in scar tissue, there may be permanent paralysis or impairment. In rare cases, the nerve may be torn from the spinal cord – this is referred to as an avulsion.
Shoulder Dystocia is a condition where one shoulder becomes stuck under the mother’s pelvic bones following normal delivery of the baby’s head. It is a dangerous position for both the baby and the mother. There are certain circumstances that create a higher risk of a problem. Women who are short, have had gestational diabetes or pelvic abnormalities are at greater risk. It is also more likely to occur with a larger than average baby and prolonged delivery. The use of forceps or a vacuum extractor during delivery also increases the risk. Doctors may perform a serious of events once identifying the condition, including the McRoberts Maneuver, Subrapubic Pressure, Woods/Rubens Maneuver, Episiotomy, Zavenelli Maneuver or Symphsectomy. Shoulder dystocia is not an injury in and of itself. It is a dangerous condition because it can result in Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy, fracture of the humerus or clavicle, hypoxic brain injury and cerebral palsy or even death. Shoulder dystocia can restrict oxygen and blood flow to the baby by pinching the umbilical cord and trapping the infant’s head. In a shoulder dystocia emergency, the obstetrical team has five minutes or less to deliver the baby.
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About McEldrew Young
Our trial attorneys are ready to litigate on your behalf. They have handled thousands of oral arguments, mediations, arbitrations and jury trials. James J. McEldrew, III is a Past President of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association. He has an extensive set of contacts with local and national physicians in order to have your medical file expertly reviewed to determine whether there has been a case of medical malpractice.
Against Big Business
Our lawyers have sued some of the largest health care companies, insurance companies, local hospitals and other corporations both in the local area and nationally. We may be a small team but we carefully select cases so that we have the resources to litigate them properly and we are not allocating our time to a case that we don’t think we have a shot of winning.
For Individuals and Families
We represent our personal injury clients on a contingency fee basis. This means that there is no upfront cost to hire us and you owe nothing to us unless we receive a recovery for you. We know that litigation is expensive and our clients generally don’t have the money to front the cost to take a case to trial. Our personal injury practice consists largely of the representation of individuals and families in the five counties that make up the Philadelphia area, including Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware and Chester counties.