Oregon Common Birth Injuries

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Understanding When Common Birth Injuries are Due to Negligence in Oregon


While childbirth is considered to be a very physically painful experience, it is still often one of the most joyous moments in the lives of the mother and father. Of course while there is always the slight worry that something could go wrong during the birth, most parents do not anticipate such issues. Unfortunately there are times when a baby is injured during the labor and delivery experience. Some cases of birth injuries are unanticipated and avoidable, while other injuries could be completely avoided entirely. When common birth injuries are due to the error of a physician or other healthcare provider, this is considered to be negligence in Oregon.


Birth Injuries Explained


A birth injury is an injury that occurs during labor and delivery. There are some types of birth injuries that may not be directly caused by the labor and delivery itself, but by inadequate care received after birth. There are many types of birth injuries, ranging from mild to severe. Birth injuries can include brain damage, physical deformities, paralysis, or physical bruising or wounds. As mentioned above, some birth injuries are unavoidable while others are quite avoidable. Some birth injuries can be quite harmful and lead to catastrophic injuries, or even death. Child with severe birth injuries may require a lifetime of care. Examples of birth injuries include the following:


  • Kernicterus
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy
  • Hematoma
  • Nerve damage
  • Skull fracture
  • Vacuum extraction complications
  • Cephalohematoma
  • Fractures (femur, humerus, etc.)
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Caput succedaneum
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage
  • Wrongful death


There are many different types of birth injuries, but these are just a few examples of birth injuries that can occur as the result of medical malpractice.


Types of Birth Injuries


There are many different types of birth injuries, but examples of these include the following: 


  • Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)- HIE is a type of birth injury that occurs as the result of a newborn being deprived of oxygen (hypoxia) and blood flow (ischemia). This is considered to be a catastrophic birth injury that may cause severe brain damage. While cooling treatment may help to reverse or prevent further brain damage, babies with HIE tend to suffer some effects from the injury
  • Facial paralysis – Facial paralysis can occur when there is injury to the nerve in the face. One common cause of facial paralysis is the inappropriate use of forceps. Forceps and vacuum extraction is sometimes needed to delivery a baby who is having a difficult time exiting the birth canal. While they can be used appropriately and effectively, they can also be used to forcefully or inappropriately, causing facial paralysis. This can cause the child to potentially not be able to move a part of their face or eyelid
  • Brachial Plexus injury – this type of injury is caused by damage of the brachial plexus nerves (nerves that run between the neck and shoulders). There are varying degrees of severity, depending on the nerves affected and the degree of injury. These injuries can cause difficult with movement, sensation and function
  • Brain Injuries – Brain injuries can occur due to many different errors during labor and delivery. Inappropriate use of vacuum extractor, failing to remove a baby who is in distress, excessive force during delivery, or dropping the baby after delivery are all examples as to how brain injuries can occur. Brain injuries can cause mild to severe cognitive impairment. Not all brain injuries are the result of medical malpractice, but many are
  • Cerebral Palsy – Cerebral Palsy is a type of birth injury that is the result of either oxygen deprivation or physical trauma during labor and delivery. Cerebral palsy can cause a great deal of effects, ranging from mild to severe. Babies severely affected may require lifelong care as they may not be able to function independently
  • Clavicle or Collarbone Fracture – This is a common birth injury that can occur during a delivery that is difficult. Risk factors for these injuries may include macrosomia (large newborn), cephalopelvic disproportion (baby is too large to fit out of the birth canal) or the use of extraction tools during delivery. 


Why Do Birth Injuries Occur?


Birth injuries sadly occur for a variety of reasons. Some are due to medical malpractice while others are not. Birth injuries can sometimes be avoided if certain unsafe situations are avoided (ie. opting for a c-section instead of a vaginal birth) or if proper care is provided (i.e. adequate treatment for jaundice, thus avoiding the catastrophic injury known as kernicterus. Examples of complications that have the potential to lead to birth injuries include the following: 


  • Placental abruption
  • Nuchal cord
  • Umbilical cord prolapse
  • Uterine rupture
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion 
  • Baby that is too large for the birth canal
  • Umbilical cord compression
  • Delay in delivery the baby, leading to complications such as oxygen deprivation


These are a few of the many complications that can cause birth injuries.


How are Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice?


Birth injuries can happen as the result of medical malpractice. It is considered to be medical malpractice if the standards of care and hospital protocols were not followed, or if clear errors occurred leading to the newborn’s birth injury. Examples as to how medical malpractice can cause birth injuries include the following: 


  • Failing to identify and intervene where there is fetal distress
  • Failing to intervene with a c-section when there are complications occurring during a vaginal birth
  • Allowing for prolonged labor, leading to potential complications
  • Inappropriate use of extraction tools
  • Overuse or improper use of drugs such as Pitocin that induce labor
  • Opting for a vaginal birth before labor has begun when there are known risk factors for complications with a vaginal birth
  • Failing to intervene if a baby is in respiratory distress at birth
  • Failing to identify complications that must be dealt with in order to avoid complications (i.e umbilical cord rupture or prolapse)
  • Improper monitoring of contractions. If there are inappropriate accelerations or decelerations, this can cause serious brain injuries, HIE, CP, or many other complications due to inadequate oxygen flow to the infant.


Ask Our Medical Malpractice Lawyer About Common Birth Injuries in Your Oregon Case


If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.


Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.


We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.

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