Have you or a loved one suffered as a result of a birth injury in Maryland? There are lots of attorneys who advertise that they handle medical malpractice cases, and then simply refer those cases to other attorneys in exchange for a referral fee. It is very rare to find an attorney or law firm that not only has a proven track record of success in local medical malpractice lawsuits, but that also has the financial power, expertise, focus and staff to achieve the best possible results case after case.
The Best Birth Injury Lawyers In Baltimore
When asking the question of who is the best medical malpractice lawyer in Maryland for a birth injury case, the biggest indicator of future success may be the attorney's track record. Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer Briggs Bedigian was the lead attorney in the two largest medical malpractice verdicts in Maryland. The largest of his verdicts was $55 million dollars.
There are a many factors that must align for a successful birth injury medical malpractice case to result in compensation that takes into account the impact of an entire life affected by the negligence of the medical staff. Picking the best birth injury lawyer in Maryland, with the best experience and skills is a huge part of the equation. However, other factors, such as the law firm's network of experts and the firm's ability to pay for those experts is also crucial. And, the firm must be sufficiently capitalized (have enough money) that it can continue to operate while the lead attorney spends months and years working on your case. So small firms, or firms that don't have a successful track record of earning high-dollar verdicts and settlements may simply lack the financial staying power to see a birth injury case through to the end.
Birth Injury Malpractice Cases Are Expensive To Bring To A Successful Conclusion
Because successful birth injury malpractice lawsuits take a tremendous amount of time and money, the medical malpractice insurance companies, with their unlimited resources, will use the tactic of trying to drive the law firm that represents you into financial distress. This may be a based on requiring you to rebut their high-paid experts with expensive expert witnesses of your own. It may also be based on the simple math that a solo-practitioner or small law firm may not be able to survive in life and business while spending money on your case. An attorney who sees your case as a financial burden may not be able to be as devoted to you and your case as an attorney from a law firm that is well funded and can invest any amount of money to prove your case without having to weigh that expenditure against their own well-being.
We are perfectly suited to handle and win even the most complex and expensive birth injury cases. In fact, we advance all of the costs for your birth injury case, and you don't pay anything unless and until we win the case and collect money for you. We make a significant investment in you because we believe in your case, and in getting justice for you and your child. Because we not only spend our time, but also risk our money, we are very invested in getting you the best possible outcome. Your best-interests become our best interests as well. We know that's how it should be, because we've seen too many cases where a parent selected the wrong lawyer or firm and ended up with nothing, or with much less than they could have received.
If a birth injury law firm is not willing or able to invest a substantial amount of their own money, it either means that they don't have the money to do it, or they don't have a strong enough belief in their ability to succeed with your case. When we take your case and invest our own money in your success, you can rest assured that we have the belief in your case, the financial means to succeed, and the confidence in our ability to win.
The Best Birth Injury Lawyers Scare Hospitals And Insurance Companies
The mark of a top medical malpractice lawyer is that the companies (the medical malpractice insurance companies and hospitals) ultimately responsible for paying for your child's birth injury, live in fear of seeing these attorneys on the other side of a lawsuit. There are a very small and elite number of attorneys in the country who have received medical malpractice verdicts in excess of $2 million (let alone in excess of $50 million). Verdicts of this size don't happen by accident. We've done it many times.
When an attorney has a history or collecting large verdicts in birth injury cases, the people who will have to write the check at the end of the case get scared. This fear causes them to consider settling the case for a lot more money than they would offer to a lawyer they know lack the experience and the funding to pose a real threat to them at trial.
Through representing, and caring for, people in countless birth injury and other medical malpractice cases, we have grown to appreciate the power of consistent hard work and investment in our cases. We've done our homework. We've earned a reputation and track record that we encourage you to compare dollar for dollar with any other birth injury law firm in Maryland.
Your Maryland Birth Injury Case
Childbirth is both a joyful and nerve-wracking occasion for new parents. Medical studies show that 28,000 children are born each year with birth injuries, many of which are preventable. This means that about 7 out of every 1,000 births results in trauma for the mother or child. We see this as an unacceptable number, and we love helping families recover from tragic birth events.
This amounts to:
- 2,333 childbirth injuries per month
- 528 per week
- 76 per day
- 3 per hour
The 10 most common birth injuries are:
- Erb's Palsy
- Bone fractures
- Cephalohematoma – a collection of blood between the skull and scalp and more common with the use of tools like forceps
- Caput Succedaneum – a swelling of the baby's scalp
- Perinatal asphyxia – oxygen deprivation
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage – a rupture of blood vessels
- Facial paralysis
- Spinal cord injuries
- Cerebral Palsy
Some of these birth injuries will not result in serious harm for the mother or child, and may resolve themselves. Some are even inevitable. But many childbirth injuries are preventable and responsibility lies in the hands of the hospitals and doctors.
Preventable Birth Injuries In Maryland
Hospitals are busy and often chaotic. One of the fundamental principles of good medicine is effective communication and coordination between doctors and hospital personnel. However, in today's computer age with mega-hospitals, the principle of effective communication is often lacking.
There's A Better Way: Unfortunately Not In Maryland
One initiative in hospitals, called the Premier Perinatal Safety Initiative (PPSI), was implemented in 14 hospitals in 12 states, and followed 250,000 births (none of these hospitals were in Maryland). PPSI showed a 14% decrease in childbirth injuries, resulting in safer conditions for 110 mothers and newborns. That means that there is a lot of room for improvement in Maryland when it comes to making the birth process safer.
The initiative focuses on medical professional teams who could provide “care bundles” to their patients, or essential procedures to ensure their safety, improved communication processes in the hospitals, and simulations to provide practice for birth complications and potential injuries.
This initiative shows clearly that hospitals can improve their birth injury rate if doctors improve in care and communication skills
Results from the initiative showed clearly that by focusing on PPSI's procedures, hospitals and doctors could significantly improve their birth injury rate. Specifically the initiative resulted in:
- 22% reduction in neonatal birth trauma
- 25% reduction in birth hypoxia and asphyxia
- 15% reduction in complications from anesthesia during labor/delivery, including cardiac arrest
- 5.4% reduction in postpartum hemorrhage
Other studies agree that there are many policies hospitals can put in place to improve birth injury rates. These policies include: standardized care, improved communication and teamwork, multidisciplinary teams, and implementing recognized metrics.
Damages and Claims for Childbirth Injuries
Childbirth is expensive, and will quickly increase in price with additional procedures. Studies show that in the US childbirth costs an average of $9,617 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth, and an average of $15,799 for an uncomplicated cesarean birth, and these prices continue to rise.
Currently, the United States is the most expensive country to give birth:
These prices show normal vaginal and cesarean births without complications, which will add thousands of dollars to your bill. Some complications that result in permanent severe neurological injuries can result in millions of dollars in future medical care needs. Some doctors are motivated to perform unnecessary procedures which to add revenue to their hospital, but will increase the price for new parents, and can result in serious consequences for the mother and child.
One of the main damages claimed in childbirth injury claims is the cost incurred by parents for the incomplete medical care. Parents can also ask for damages for mental and physical harm, and the cost of any future procedures needed.
To qualify for compensation, parents must show that they had a doctor/ patient relationship with the doctor or hospital in question, that the doctor or hospital broke the “standard of care” or acted in a way that another regular doctor would not have acted, and that the result was serious harm to the mother and/or child.
Some of the most common childbirth injuries that result in serious harm for mothers or newborns are:
Malpractice Related To Birth Complications In Baltimore
Doctors need to be prepared to provide the mother and child with the best possible care when a baby is born. To do this they need to know the medical history of the mother and child, and they need to be aware of the complications that may occur during childbirth.
Failure to prepare for complications could result in serious harm for the mother or child. Some injuries cause minor tissue damage, while some cause brain, nerve or other types of injuries that may not be reversible.
Some common birth complications include:
- Slow labor
- Multiple births
- Anemia in mother and/or child
- Breech position
- Posterior position
- Amniotic Fluid Embolism
- Placenta Previa
- Placenta Accreta
- Uterine Rupture
- Gestational Diabetes
- Nuchal Cord- the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby's head)
- Other umbilical cord issues
- Cephalopelvic Disproportion- the baby's head will not fit through the mother's pubic bone or is stuck
- Excessive bleeding after childbirth
Many birth complications that result in serious injury are the consequence of either improper or failed diagnoses for the mother or child.
Malpractice Related To Distress In The Fetus In Baltimore
Fetal distress is very uncommon in women who have otherwise had a healthy pregnancy, but any history of stillbirth, anemia, hypertension, diabetes, post-term pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, or obesity in the mother should be a signal to her doctor that there is a higher potential for fetal distress.
Signs of fetal distress include:
- Difficult or prolonged labor
- Smaller than average weight of the baby
- Decreased fetal heart rate
- Decreased oxygen levels in the fetus
- Decreased movement of the baby
- Unusual amounts of amniotic fluid
To monitor fetal stress your doctor may use continuous electrical fetal monitoring (EFM) and use sensors over your abdomen to monitor the baby's heartbeats along with the mother's contractions, or will take a small blood sample from the baby. The doctor could also place a fetal scalp electrode directly into the scalp of your baby in order to better monitor how the baby is tolerating labor.
Fetal distress is potentially reduced by:
- Changing the mother's position
- Keeping the mother hydrated
- Alleviating pressure on the umbilical cord
- Monitoring oxygen levels of the mother and baby
- Delaying or inducing labor
Malpractice Related To C-Sections In Baltimore
Cesarean sections come with a some risk, as all surgeries do. However, major complications are rare with Cesarean sections and when weighed against the possibility of the baby being born with brain damage, it is an easy choice. Although many doctors will not tell patients - any patient can request an elective Cesarean section for whatever reason they choose. While your physician may try and persuade you that a vaginal birth is safer, the choice is only that of the mother. Currently Cesarean sections are the second most common surgery in the United States. When used in emergency situations to save the mother and child, they are very effective, but medical studies show that C-section rates in the US were at 32.7% in 2013, at least 17% over what the World Health Organization recommends for healthy births. According to WHO, anything over 15% provides no additional benefits to the mother's or child's health, and comes with significant risk. However, when it is our child any risk is significant.
A woman might need a C-section if:
- She had a prior C-section or other previous surgery that could interfere with birth
- The baby displayed fetal distress
- She is having more than one child
- The baby is in breech
Women who undergo C-sections face up to six weeks of recovery time, where women who birth vaginally face only two to four. The women who have undergone C-sections also rate their recovery time as more painful than women who are recovering from vaginal births. Women who have C-sections also face increased childbirth risks for any future pregnancies.
Babies born from C-sections are more prone to:
- Repertory problems
- Delay in breastfeeding or problems breastfeeding
C-sections have the potential to result in errors that leave the mother or child seriously harmed. See C-section and healthy birthing statistics for Maryland hospitals here.
Malpractice Related To Birth Extraction Devices In Baltimore
Medical studies demonstrate that about 5% of newborns in the US are born with an assisted delivery. In an assisted delivery your doctor may use forceps or a vacuum-extraction tool to ease trauma to the mother or child, but these tools can result in serious injuries if used improperly.
Birth injuries caused by extraction devices: A doctor may recommend assisted delivery if the mother had a long and difficult labor that could make natural birth too difficult, or if the baby is showing signs of distress during delivery and doctors think it is best to speed up the process and get the baby out. If the mother is exhausted or has a history of heart problems, or if the baby's heart rate drops during delivery or the baby is in the wrong position for birth, your doctor will probably recommend an assisted delivery.
Birth Injuries Caused By Forceps
Forceps are instruments that look like a long pair of tongs that will cradle the baby's head and help pull the baby out during delivery. They can damage the baby's head if used with too much force, or strain the baby's neck or arms.
Birth Injuries Caused By Vacuum-Extractor Tools
The FDA has warned that vacuum-extractor tools potentially lead to serious harm for the baby if used unnecessarily or incorrectly.
A vacuum extraction tool involves a small cup placed on the baby's head, with the other end attached to a pump that will create a vacuum suction to the baby. The doctor will gently help to pull the baby out. The tool normally causes a bruise on the baby's head that will heal on its own. But the vacuum extractor tool may also be used with too much force, injuring the baby's head or straining its neck and arms.
When an assisted delivery causes harm
Serious complications that result from misused assisted delivery tools include:
For the baby:
- Hemorrhaging or excessive bleeding
- Scalp wounds
For the mother:
- Vaginal tears
- Bladder or urethra injuries
Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects the brain's ability to control movement. An estimated 764,000 people in the US have cerebral palsy, and about 20% of all cerebral palsy cases are the result of birthing injuries.
Cerebral palsy is a disorder that has no known cure. While much is still unknown about cerebral palsy, doctors believe that it is onset by a lack of oxygen to the brain before, during, or closely after childbirth. Sometimes this is inevitable, but often this is caused by a doctor's error or negligence.
Childbirth injuries that lead to cerebral palsy include:
- Not performing a timely C-section if needed
- Failing to diagnose the mother with infections or conditions that could harm her baby
- Failing to monitor oxygen supply levels to the baby, or failing to correct oxygen supply issues
- Failure to diagnose a prolapsed umbilical cord
When used improperly, assisted delivery devices like forceps and vacuum extractor tools can cause bleeding and damage in the brain, and potentially result in a lack of oxygen (hypoxia) that can lead to cerebral palsy.
Babies born with cerebral palsy may not immediately display noticeable symptoms. Respiratory problems, seizures, or other neurological problems are signs the baby may need further tests.
Erb's Palsy, or brachial plexus palsy, is the result of damaged nerves in a baby's upper arm. This could be the result of a doctor or nurse's improper techniques in delivering a baby, including unnaturally stretching or pulling the baby during delivery.
Erb's Palsy can result in decreased movement in a baby's arm, paralysis, numbness, or damaged nerve and circulation development
If a baby shows little or no movement in one or both of its arms it may be the result of Erb's Palsy.
A baby could be at risk for Erb's palsy if:
- The mother had a long or difficult labor
- The baby was breeched or in a difficult birthing position
- The doctor used tools like forceps or a vacuum extractor tool
- The baby was large before birth
Sometimes the symptoms of Erb's palsy go away on their own, and a baby may regain feeling in her arm after a few days. Some babies will need surgery within the first three to six months to correct nerve damage. Medical studies show that 70-80% of Erb's palsy cases will be corrected within a year. The other 20% of patients may experience lifelong issues with nerve damage and loss of muscle control in their arms.
Two to four newborns out of 1,000 will suffer from hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen to the brain. Many babies will be able to recover from hypoxia if normal oxygen levels quickly return, but 25% of all babies who suffer from hypoxia will have lasting or permanent neurological problems.
Hypoxia is caused by:
- Fetal distress
- Umbilical cord prolapse
- Excessive Contractions
- Inappropriate use of labor stimulation drugs such as Pitocin or Oxytocin
- Problems with the placenta, like placental abruption
- Shoulder dystocia (when the baby's shoulders get trapped during birth)
- Eclampsia and preeclampsia
- Negligent interpretation of fetal monitoring strips or child's heart rate
- Failure to monitor the baby's oxygen levels
- Premature birth
The effects of hypoxia on the baby include:
- Mental retardation
- Cerebral palsy
- Developmental delays
- Vision problems
- Motor skills problems
Injuries from hypoxia will depend on how long the brain was exposed to dangerously low levels of oxygen. If the brain was completely cut off from oxygen, the baby may suffer from anoxia.
There are steps that doctors follow to reduce or eliminate the possibility of hypoxia and anoxia for the baby, and there are also steps that should be taken once effected to reduce the harm to the baby's brain. Your doctor should be aware of any risk factors with the pregnancy, and should continuously monitor the baby's oxygen levels during birth to be fully prepared to take necessary emergency steps. There are often warnings of hypoxia that go unrecognized by the nurses and doctors which lead to serious consequences.
Shoulder dystocia is the result of the baby's shoulders getting caught on the mother's pubic bone during delivery. It most often occurs when doctors attempt to help pull the baby through the birthing process. Studies show that 20% of babies who experience shoulder dystocia will have injuries as a result.
Though shoulder dystocia cannot be predicted, there are certain factors that make mothers more at risk for it to occur. These include:
- A large baby, or a late delivery
- Obesity in the mother
- Birthing multiple babies
- Prolonged or difficult labor
- Gestational diabetes, or diabetes in the mother
- Previous birthing issues related to shoulder dystocia
Shoulder dystocia is often preventable. There are specific steps healthcare professionals must take to alleviate or eliminate the potential for shoulder dystocia.
- In babies, shoulder dystocia will result in:
- Bone fractures
- Erb's palsy, or other nerve injuries
- Hypoxia, or reduction of oxygen to the brain