How do I know if I have a birth injury claim in Kentucky?

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Ronald M. Wilt - Personal Injury - Medical Malpractice - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Ronald M. Wilt

Located in Louisville, KYWilt & Klausing, PLLC

Louisville, KY
Phone: 502-253-9110
Fax: 502-253-9114

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Few things are as serious and emotionally challenging as birth injuries. Bringing a child into this world is a joyous experience, but when that child is injured during delivery – sometimes leading to lifelong disability or even death – the situation could not be any more dire. 

When your child suffers an injury during delivery, sometimes the doctor or medical staff may be to blame. Even the slightest medical negligence can have lifelong consequences for a child. We trust our doctors with our lives, and when that trust is breached, you deserve justice and closure. But before you do file a birth injury claim, you need to be sure the doctor or medical staff is at fault. 

Birth injuries are a sensitive area of law, as some injuries or illnesses may have developed as the child was in the womb. However, there are some indicators to look out for that may be a sign your child was injured by your doctor or medical staff during delivery. Some of these include conditions caused by low oxygen to the brain, nerve injury in the neck and injuries that were caused by a failure to deliver a baby who was at risk in the womb. 

Birth Injuries Vs. Birth Defects 

If your baby is born seriously injured, it does not necessarily mean that the doctor, hospital or medical staff are at fault. The baby may have developed a birth defect due to genetics or other factors that are out of your medical provider’s control. Birth defects occur as the baby develops in the womb, rather than during delivery. However, if the birth defect is something your medical provider should have identified and taken steps to correct or treat, you may still have a medical malpractice claim. 

Birth injuries occur during delivery and may have been caused by medical malpractice or gross negligence by the doctor during the birth. To determine if your doctor is at fault, you need to consider the type of injury your child sustained during delivery. 

Common Types Of Birth Injury 

There are a few common types of birth injuries in Kentucky. If your child has suffered as a result of any of these, you may have a birth injury claim against your doctor. 

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): This is a form of brain injury that occurs when the baby does not receive enough oxygen and/or blood to the brain. Children suffering from HIE may exhibit several symptoms, but the damage itself can only be identified radiologically. 

While this injury may result from your doctor or medical staff cutting off oxygen to the baby during delivery, your baby may also suffer from hypoxia in utero. This is typically identifiable through abnormal fetal heart tracings. In these instances, your doctor should deliver the baby promptly, so oxygen flow can be restored to the brain. When your doctor fails to do so, this also may be grounds to file a birth injury claim. 

Brachial Plexus Injury: The brachial plexus is a group of nerves located in the back of the neck that control movement in the arms, hands, shoulders and fingers. Brachial plexus injuries that occur during childbirth typically affect nerves C5 through C8. When caused by medical malpractice, it is typically due to the doctor twisting the child’s neck during delivery. 

The severity of the injury depends on if the nerves were separated or avulsed, and serious injuries will typically require surgical intervention. Conditions like Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy and Horner’s syndrome may result from a serious brachial plexus injury. 

Inadequate Resuscitation: While not a specific injury, this is a gross form of medical malpractice that often leads to the death of a child. If there is a problem with your baby upon delivery, the hospital has a duty to perform an adequate resuscitation – whether that involves incubating the child in a timely manner, establishing an airway to a child who cannot breathe or giving the child proper medications that would jump-start heart rate. 

When medical staff fail to take these steps, and your baby suffers serious injury or death as a result, you would typically have a birth injury claim. 

Failure To Deliver When Baby Is At Risk: There are many instances in which the baby or the mother exhibits symptoms of a larger issue, and the baby should be delivered early to avoid complications. 

One such complication may be an intrauterine growth restriction or IUGR. In these situations, the baby is not growing fast enough, and may be at risk for death during the delivery process. If your doctor fails to diagnose this condition, or fails to deliver the baby early, you may have a medical malpractice claim. 

The situation may be similar for mothers with low amniotic fluid levels, or who have had history with severe vaginal bleeding or other health complications. If doctors do not take the right steps to monitor the mother, and when necessary deliver the baby early, both the baby and the mother’s lives may be at risk. 

The only way to know for sure if you have a valid birth injury claim is to visit an attorney who is familiar with the types of injuries and situations that result from medical negligence and malpractice. That way, you can be sure you hold any negligent parties accountable for the harm done to your child during pregnancy and during childbirth.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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