Labor Negligence

Memphis Injury Attorneys Representing Victims of Labor and Delivery Negligence

Skilled legal services for birth injuries in Memphis, Jackson and West Tennessee

In the vast majority of cases, women proceed through labor and delivery smoothly and go home with a healthy baby. In other cases, there can be serious complications in the process of trying to bring a child into the world. Parents expect that their doctors and nurses know what they are doing, that they will follow their training and comport with accepted standards of medical care given the circumstances. When they fail to follow accepted standards of care, their actions can be considered labor and delivery negligence.

There are some complications that can lead to birth injuries, caused by the negligence of the attending medical staff. When the negligence of a medical professional causes an injury to their patient, this may give rise to a cause of action for medical malpractice. At the law firm of Bailey & Greer, PLLC, we are here to protect your rights when you sustain an injury that was caused by medical negligence in labor and delivery.

We know how to investigate your case and determine if the preventable medical error meets the requirements for medical malpractice. Our birth injury attorneys in Memphis and Jackson offer personalized attention and we do everything within the law to secure fair compensation when you have been injured at the hands of a medical professional.

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What types of injuries are caused by labor and delivery negligence?

Doctors and medical staff go through years of training and supervised internships where they learn the skills of their profession. Part of that training is a clear understanding of the accepted standard of medical care that patients expect and deserve to receive.

When a doctor, nurse or other medical staff does not adhere to these accepted standards of care during the labor and delivery process there are many medical conditions that can result, including:

  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is a birth injury that can occur as a result of oxygen deprivation during childbirth.
  • Cerebral palsy is the result of brain injury that occurs during labor and delivery.
  • Erb’s palsy can be the result of the overstretching of the nerves in the shoulder that occurs when the baby’s broad shoulders and narrow pubic bone of the mother causes the baby to get stuck as it tries to pass through the birth canal.
  • Preeclampsia that went undiagnosed or untreated can have devastating consequences. It is hypertension that develops in some pregnancies in people with a history of high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes or are at an advanced maternal age. Preeclampsia can cause a woman to deliver prematurely, have seizures and it can lead to fetal distress during delivery.
  • Head injury/brain damage can occur due to oxygen deprivation or other delivery complications.
  • Cephalohematoma is the swelling of a newborn’s scalp caused when blood pools between the brain and the skin. This is an injury that can occur after vacuum extraction has been used.
  • Skull fractures and other bone fractures can be the result of excessive force during childbirth from the use of forceps or a vacuum extractor.
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage is a birth injury that causes the tiny blood vessels in the baby’s eyes to rupture. It is often caused by pressure on the baby’s head during delivery.

Bailey & Greer, PLLC also handles complex birth injury cases that result from the negligent use of delivery instruments or Pitocin injections, a commonly-used drug for inducing labor that has been linked to skull fractures and other forms of labor and delivery negligence.

What are the dangers associated with the use of forceps?

Prolonged labor raises the chances for injury or complications for mother and baby. Sometimes, in their eagerness to get the baby out when a delivery has been difficult, obstetricians use medical implements such as forceps or vacuum extractors.

Forceps have been used for centuries to help doctors deliver babies who seem to be stuck in the birth canal. They are curved, metal tongs that the doctor uses to gently pull the baby out. When they are used improperly, however, some of the risks of injury to the baby include:

  • Skull fracture
  • Brain damage
  • Bruising or lacerations to the baby’s head
  • Temporary facial palsy
  • Minor eye trauma
  • Cephalohematoma
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Brachial plexus palsy
  • Seizures

Some forceps birth injuries will resolve on their own, while others may have long-lasting or permanent consequences in the child’s life. Forceps can also cause injury to the mother, including:

  • Severe tears to the vagina
  • Pain in the perineum
  • Difficulty emptying bladder
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence
  • Weakened pelvic floor muscles, which can cause pelvic organ prolapse
  • Bladder and urethra injuries
  • Uterine rupture

While forceps and vacuum extractor techniques can be effective in removing babies during difficult or stalled deliveries, a baby’s skull is incredibly soft, pliable, and susceptible to disfigurement or bruising.

What are the risks associated with the use of vacuum extractors?

A vacuum extractor is a more modern tool that serves the same purpose as forceps. The doctor attaches a soft cup to the baby’s head, and then a machine creates suction that is used to remove the baby from the birth canal. These tools can be used improperly as well. Injuries that can result from the use of too much force in pulling the baby out of the birth canal include:

  • Bruising beneath the skin or within the skull
  • Caput Succedaneum (scalp swelling)
  • Bleeding on the brain (inter-cranial hemorrhage)
  • Nerve damage that can cause cerebral palsy
  • Subgaleal hematoma
  • Retinal injuries

Forceps and vacuum extractors are ideally meant to be used to gently coax the baby out of the birth canal. However, when a doctor makes a preventable error and uses too much force or otherwise misuses the medical equipment the resulting injuries can be considered medical malpractice. If you believe that your doctor was negligent and caused your injury or the injury of your newborn, the team at Bailey & Greer, PLLC is eager to be of service.

What are the injuries associated with Pitocin?

When a pregnancy has progressed beyond 41 weeks, or when labor seems to have stalled, the drug Pitocin may be administered in order to induce or restart contractions. Pitocin is a synthetic form of the naturally-occurring hormone Oxytocin, but it must be used carefully by experienced professionals because of the potential danger of administering too high of a dose.

One of the challenges with using Pitocin is that the there is no way of knowing what the mother’s reaction will be to the drug. It must be administered at the right time, and in the smallest effective dose. The medical team should watch for and respond to any adverse reactions on the part of the mother right away. Some of the adverse reactions mothers may have to Pitocin include:

  • Heavy postpartum bleeding
  • Allergic reaction
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Ruptured uterus
  • Premature separation of the uterus
  • Death

When Pitocin is administered to speed up labor, electronic fetal monitoring is required in order to watch for signs of fetal distress. Pitocin causes uterine contractions to become stronger and closer together. If the contractions become too strong, however, they can cause a lowered heart rate in the fetus and undue stress on the mother. Some examples of Pitocin-induced complications for the fetus include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Stillbirth or fetal death

If administered and monitored properly, Pitocin can be an effective drug that helps move the birthing process along, but when it is misused it can lead to serious complications or death in both mother and baby.

What are the dangers of antibiotics overuse during labor and delivery?

Physicians must walk a precarious line when it comes to treating infections in pregnant women. There are certain antibiotics that are safe for pregnant women to take, while other antibiotics have been linked to serious birth injuries and complications such as:

  • Anencephaly (deformed skull and small brain)
  • Heart defects
  • Eye defects
  • Cleft lip
  • Hearing loss

Antibiotics with Macrolides can carry a higher risk of the baby developing cerebral palsy. Doctors must balance the need for clearing up an infection that could be passed along to the baby if not treated right away, and being careful to give the precise dose to guard against the danger of antibiotic overdose.

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What is preeclampsia?

Preeclampsia is pregnancy-related hypertension. Elevated blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine (and other symptoms) are hallmarks of this complication, which plays a role in about five to eight percent of all births in the United States, according to the Preeclampsia Foundation. If diagnosed and treated in a timely fashion, most women with preeclampsia will recover from the disease, give birth to a healthy child and regain their health.

However, when left undiagnosed or not properly managed, preeclampsia can cause death in the mother and the child before, during or after they give birth. If a physician fails to diagnose and treat preeclampsia, or if they failed to induce labor or perform a C-section in a timely manner to avoid the stress of a vaginal delivery, birth injuries and complications for the mother may be the result.

Preeclampsia can develop gradually without the more obvious symptoms, but it can also come on suddenly with a spike in the mother’s blood pressure and dramatic weight gain. Other symptoms of preeclampsia may include:

  • Protein in the urine
  • Swelling in the hands and face
  • Fluid retention
  • Severe headaches
  • Decreased platelets in the blood
  • Changes in vision, flashing lights
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased urine output

Not every woman who has preeclampsia will have all of these symptoms. Some of these symptoms are related to other, less serious conditions as well, so it is critical that you speak to your OB/GYN if you experience them. This way, your doctor can rule out preeclampsia for good, or begin treatment as soon as possible.

What are the risks and birth injuries associated with preeclampsia?

Even if you are being treated for your preeclampsia, the condition poses certain risks to you and your child. The most severe of those risks include:

  • Premature birth
  • Oxygen deprivation to the fetal brain
  • Acidosis
  • Organ failure
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Slowed growth of the fetus due to vascular insufficiency

Mothers who suffered from undiagnosed or untreated preeclampsia, who had a difficult delivery and now have a child who suffers from a seizure disorder, cerebral palsy or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), may want to consider meeting with an experienced birth injury attorney from the law offices of Bailey & Greer, PLLC. Our compassionate team knows how to prove negligence on the part of the medical personnel or facility.

When should I contact a Memphis birth injury and negligence attorney?

Dealing with the aftermath of labor and delivery negligence can be very traumatic for new parents. When your newborn is suffering because of a preventable medical error, when the impact of their injury will have far-reaching complications in your child’s life, and when they will require ongoing medical care, physical therapy and other services for a birth injury that is not going to just resolve on its own you may want to schedule a consultation with a West Tennessee birth injury attorney from the law firm of Bailey & Greer, PLLC.

We understand that although the value of your child’s health is not quantifiable, knowing that you received fair compensation and that the responsible parties are being held to account for their negligence may help ease the healing process.

What is the value of my Memphis labor and delivery negligence claim?

If you or your child suffered an injury during labor and delivery due to medical malpractice, the law firm of Bailey & Greer, PLLC can help. You may be eligible for financial compensation for your injuries, including damages like:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future income
  • Pain and suffering

Ensure you to act quickly and contact one of our experienced attorneys as soon as possible or your and your child’s right to file a claim may be lost.

Schedule a consultation with our West Tennessee medical malpractice lawyers today

If you suffered an injury during the labor and delivery process, or if your child suffered a birth injury because of negligence during labor and delivery, we want to speak with you. Bailey & Greer, PLLC has answers to your questions about birth injuries and medical malpractice. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced birth injury lawyer in Memphis or Jackson, please call us at 901-475-7434 or fill out our contact form.

Bailey & Greer Team