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In an ideal world, no parent would ever have to learn that their child suffered a birth injury. Unfortunately, birth injuries ranging in severity are suffered by millions of infants each year. These injuries often lead to considerable medical costs and other financial losses. When a preventable birth injury is caused by medical negligence on the part of a hospital, emergency room, or medical professional, the negligent party may be liable for damages. This means that the birth injury victim’s parents may be entitled to compensation for their financial losses. They may also be compensated for non-financial losses including their emotional distress.

Defining Medical Negligence in the Context of Birth Injuries

If your child was injured or killed during labor and delivery, you are probably desperate for answers. You may question if there is anything that could have been done to prevent the birth injury from occurring. While many birth injuries are unavoidable, some are the direct result of medical negligence. Medical negligence is often defined as the unskilled or improper medical treatment of a patient by a medical professional. More specifically, medical negligence occurs when a medical professional fails to exercise the same quality of treatment that a professional with similar education and experience would have provided in similar circumstances. This hypothetical standard is often referred to as the “medical standard of care.”

When Is a Medical Malpractice Claim Appropriate?

Although the terms medical negligence and medical malpractice are often used interchangeably, the two are not synonymous. Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare professional fails to provide treatment that meets the medical standard of care. Medical malpractice occurs when medical negligence causes a patient to be injured or killed and damages result from the injury or death. So, if your child’s birth injury was caused by medical negligence and you sustained damages such as medical bills or lost wages from missed work, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim. You may be entitled to compensation for your financial and non-financial damages. This may include compensation for neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) costs, physical therapy, lost wages, emotional anguish, and more.

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IL birth injury lawyerA baby’s birth should be one of the happiest days of a parent’s life. Unfortunately, some parents’ happiness is mired by anxiety and fear due to a serious birth injury. Brachial plexus injuries are fairly common in newborns, but the consequences of these injuries can have lifelong ramifications. If a doctor’s failure to meet the medical standard of care results in a baby suffering a brachial plexus injury, the baby’s parents may be entitled to compensation for the damages they have suffered.

How Does a Brachial Plexus Injury Occur?

Brachial plexus nerves connect the spinal cord to the shoulders, arms, and hands. When these nerves are damaged, the body’s ability to control arm and hand movement is decreased. Brachial plexus injuries are often caused when a condition called shoulder dystocia occurs during delivery. Shoulder dystocia refers to a situation in which the baby’s shoulders become stuck in the birth canal. This can put intense pressure on the baby’s neck and shoulder area. Brachial plexus nerves can become stretched or even torn. The use of tools such as vacuum extractors and forceps may increase the risk of a brachial plexus injury.

The medical consequences of a brachial plexus injury vary depending on the severity of damage to the nerves and the location of the injury. Nerves that are slightly stretched may only result in short-term symptoms. If the nerves are severed or torn away from the spinal cord, however, the baby may experience paralysis that lasts for the rest of his or her life. Damage to the brachial plexus nerves may also result in a condition called Erb’s Palsy. A baby suffering from Erb’s Palsy may experience weakness, loss of feeling, and partial or total paralysis of the shoulders or arms. He or she has one arm that is noticeably smaller than the other during childhood. Physical therapy is the most common treatment for brachial plexus injuries. However, some sufferers may require surgery such as a nerve transfer or nerve graft to correct the mitigate the damage.

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