A jury, in October, awarded a Nebraska couple $11.5 million in a medical malpractice case, but no amount of money can reverse the severe brain damage their child suffered during birth.
The attorney for the couple argued that the delivery, in 2010, was “grossly mismanaged” by the midwife and the doctor when they ignored breathing problems, allowing the child’s health to deteriorate during delivery. When the infant’s condition continued to decline, forceps were used improperly to extract the baby, causing brain damage that has left the child permanently disabled. In addition, the attorney found that the child’s medical records had been tampered with after the catastrophic birth.
Hospital representatives claim the baby “suffered a stroke unrelated to his labor or delivery.”
Even though the jury thought the injuries and cover-up were egregious enough to merit a $11.5 million award, the judge was expected to reduce the amount to $1.75 million, the 2010 state cap on medical malpractice damages. Even with brain damage and permanent disability, the child is expected to have a normal lifespan. The significantly smaller award will have to cover all of the child’s medical and living expenses for his lifetime.
The hospital is considering appealing the verdict.
Almost 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data for 2014, the last year for which they provide statistics.
Each year in the United States about 28,000 children suffer birth injuries. Of every 1,000 infants born in the United States, six to eight are born with birth injuries. That breaks down to about: one in every 9,714; 2,333 per month; 538 per week; 76 per day; and three per hour.
Birth-assisting tools, such as forceps, are commonplace, however, as in the case with the Nebraska infant, they can cause grievous injuries if used negligently.
In a forceps delivery during a vaginal birth, a doctor or other health care provider applies forceps — an instrument shaped like a pair of salad tongs — to the baby’s head to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. A forceps delivery poses a risk of injury for both mother and baby, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website.
In addition to potentially injuring the mother, the instruments, when misused, can cause injuries to infants, including:
- Facial injuries due to the pressure of the forceps
- Temporary weakness in the facial muscles
- External eye trauma
- Skull fracture
- Bleeding within the skull
In most instances, the symptoms of forceps injuries are straightforward, such as lacerations or bruising. Other symptoms of forceps injury can include a misshapen head, nerve damage, skull fractures and brain bleeds. These injuries can lead to ongoing health issues, including: seizure disorders, strokes, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and cerebral palsy.
If you have been injured during childbirth or your infant has suffered a birth injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.