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Medical Malpractice
and Birth Injuries

Birth Injury Statistics

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In the U.S., about 29 birth injuries occur for every 1,000 live births, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).
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In addition, the number of birth injuries increases to 160 per 1,000 when vacuum, forceps, or other assistance is used.

Common Causes of Birth Injuries

Circumtances that may cause birth injuries include
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Complications during pregnancy
High-risk pregnancy icon
High-risk pregnancy
Genetic disorders icon
Genetic disorders
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Premature birth
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Fetal distress
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Fetal oxygen deprivation
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Fetus is breech
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Delivery errors

Common Types of Birth Injuries

Five common types of birth injuries are
Types of birth injuries
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Birth Injuries to Baby

The most common birth injuries are:
  • Cerebral palsy
    A neurological condition caused by brain damage, which affects a person’s movement, balance, and posture.
  • Erb’s palsy
    Traumatic nerve injury that results when the doctor pulls too hard on a baby’s upper arm or shoulder during delivery.
  • Hypoxic brain damage
    Damage caused to the brain when it goes without oxygen for too long.
  • Fetal acidosis
    High levels of toxicity in the baby’s blood caused from lack of oxygen during or after delivery.
  • Shoulder dystocia
    An injury caused when the shoulder gets caught inside the mother’s pelvis during delivery.
  • Broken or fractured bones
    Bones such as the clavicle, arms, or legs may be broken or fractured during delivery.
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Birth Injuries to Mother

The most common birth injuries are:
  • Postpartum hemorrhage
    Blood loss than can cause shock or death, if excessive.
  • Vaginal laceration
    Perineal tears to the vagina, perineal muscles, sphincter, and anus.
  • Ruptured uterus
    A tearing of the uterine wall can be life-threatening.
  • Death
    For every 1,000 live births, 26.4 mothers die. This is almost three times more than other developed countries.
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Signs of Fetal Distress

Signs of fetal distress may occur prior to or during the birth, which indicate that the fetus is not well. Signs of fetal distress include
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  • Reduced fetal movement in the uterus.
  • Abnormal results on the nonstress test or NST, as well as the contraction stress test or CST.
  • Abnormal levels of amniotic fluid.
  • Abnormal scores on the biophysical profile or BPP.
  • Bleeding from the vagina.
  • Cramping.
  • Mother is experiencing high blood pressure.
  • Extreme fluctuation of maternal weight.

Costs of Birth Injuries

Compensation for birth injuries may cover
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  • Medical treatment and doctor visits
  • Long-term health care
  • Medical equipment
  • Home and vehicle modifications to accommodate injured child’s special needs
  • Special education needs
  • Income and benefits lost by parents for missed work caused by caring for injured child

Medical Malpractice Trial and Settlement Statistics

The following are medical malpractice statistics worth noting in Pennsylvania
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Majority of medical malpractice claims generally settle.
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Doctors win most of the cases (Over 75%)when it goes to a jury trial.
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In one recent year, there were 106 medical malpractice cases that went to verdict.
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Plaintiffs win 60% of bench trials.
of the 106 cases,
7 resulted in a verdict of
$500,000 or less
1 resulted in a verdict between
$500,000 and $1 million
6 resulted in a verdicts between
$1 million and 5 million
2 resulted in verdicts between
$5 million and 10 million
2 resulted in verdicts over
$10 million

Situations Where Negligence May Cause Birth Injuries

Some examples of negligence that cause birth injuries are
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  • Failure to plan for high-risk deliveries
  • Failure of the physician to prepare for a caesarean despite the presence of risk factors
  • Drugs were administered to the mother prior to giving birth that put the baby at risk
  • Inadequate monitoring of the baby’s condition prior to the birth
  • Negligent use of forceps or other instruments
  • Errors in dispensing of anesthesia
  • Failure to conduct sufficient tests during pregnancy
  • Failure to identify maternal medical conditions
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