Experienced San Francisco Birth Injury Lawyer
All the anticipation of having a new baby evolved into a nightmare when your newborn sustained injuries during the birth process. Because a physician or other medical practitioner was negligent or reckless, your baby was hurt, and your heart is broken. Or as your baby has gotten older, you’re noticing things such as impaired movement, speech delay, and cognition issues that you now suspect may be because of a birth injury.
Callaway & Wolf have handled hundreds of injury cases for nearly 25 years, but injured baby & infant cases touch us deeply. We feel not only for the harm done to a tiny human being but also for the anguish and pain the baby’s parents feel. There’s nothing we can do to quell your sorrow and fear, but we can help hold those who hurt your baby financially responsible for the harm done so your child can receive the medical treatment and care they need, possibly for a lifetime. If you need to talk to a San Francisco birth injury attorney, call Callaway & Wolf today at (415) 541-0300 and schedule a free consultation.
What are Typical Injuries for an Infant at Birth?
When babies are born, they often have minor injuries such as bruising because of natural physical pressure during the birth process and transit through the birth canal. Other newborn injuries that often occur are swelling and bruising of the head and scalp scratches from monitor leads, forceps, and vacuum extractors. These types of injuries are fairly common, most times, are not because of a birth physician or midwife’s neglect or recklessness. Also, these non-permanent injuries heal quickly on their own. When a baby moves through the birth canal, non-injurious head molding might also occur, but the head will round within a few days. Those things are nothing to worry about.
Overall, birth injury rates are significantly lower than in years past because of improved prenatal assessment, the limited use of forceps, and the increased safety of a Cesarean section when a fetus becomes distressed or the mother cannot deliver the baby vaginally.
Unfortunately Serious Birth Injuries Still Occur
Cerebral Palsy is a brain injury or brain malformation that occurs while the brain is developing before, during, or after birth. As a result of fetal or newborn brain damage, a child’s muscle control, coordination, tone, reflex, posture and balance can be minimally or significantly affected. As well, it can impair fine motor and gross motor skills and oral motor function (speech). Because cerebral palsy symptoms aren’t usually obvious until a child is two or more years old, the causes may not be clear. By then, it may be extremely difficult to determine cause. Though cerebral palsy, which is caused by a rupture to blood vessels in the brain or oxygen starvation, could have been unpreventable during fetus development, when these brain injuries occur during the birthing process, it’s possible that your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by physician or midwife mistakes.
Umbilical Cord Strangulation
A baby’s umbilical cord is its life source, and when it gets wrapped around a baby’s neck during birth, it can cut off oxygen to the brain. When a doctor is properly monitoring a fetus, they are obligated to pay attention to the umbilical cord’s position. In this case, intervention is critical. If a doctor or midwife failed in their duty to monitor your baby’s umbilical cord positioning, this can be considered a medical malpractice case.
When Pitocin is used to stimulate labor or speed up contractions, it must be properly monitored and stopped immediately when problems arise. Because it can cause hyperstimulation of the uterus and contractions can become excessively frequent, long, or intense, the flow of oxygen through the uterus, placenta, and umbilical cord can be hindered, causing fetal oxygen deprivation.
Perinatal asphyxia is reduced blood flow to the baby’s tissues or a decrease in fetal blood oxygen before, during, or immediately after delivery. Though a medical provider can’t cause perinatal asphyxia, immediate treatment is critical, including resuscitation or insertion of a breathing tube into a newborn’s throat (intubation), fluids by vein, and/or a blood transfusion. Newborns with perinatal asphyxia may need drugs to help their heart function. After a newborn is revived, they may benefit from having their body temperature lowered below the normal 98.6° for 72 hours. If a physician doesn’t provide critical intervention when perinatal asphyxia is present, this could be considered reasons to file a medical malpractice case.
Subgaleal hemorrhage is bleeding directly under the scalp and covering the skull bones. It can cause life-threatening blood loss and shock. The use of forceps or a vacuum extractor or an inherent blood clotting problem are likely causes of a subgaleal hemorrhage and may require a blood transfusion. If appropriate intervention doesn’t quickly occur, a baby may be either impaired for life or die.
Subdural hemorrhage is a bleed between the outer and inner layers of the brain covering, and a newborn may develop complications such as brain damage or fatal seizures as a result. Prolonged, untreated seizures can cause permanent damage due to decreased oxygen flow to the brain and excessive brain cell activity. Neonatal seizures are often symptoms of a more serious underlying condition, particularly brain injury. Babies who have neonatal seizures are at high risk for developing epilepsy later in life. Further brain injury seizures may cause cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and other serious neurological disorders. For these reasons, babies experiencing neonatal seizures should receive rapid, specialized care.
Epidural hematoma is bleeding between the outer tissue (meninges) covering the brain and the skull which is typically caused by a skull fracture. Although rare, birth injuries due to medical mistakes can lead to an epidural hematoma. For instance, an infant’s head passing through the birth canal in a breech position when a Cesarean section should have been performed may lead to an epidural hematoma. In other cases, improper use of forceps and vacuum extraction tools can cause this serious injury. Epidural hematoma may cause deadly sleep apnea and seizures.
Nerve injuries other than those caused by fetus position in the uterus before birth or the baby’s nerve being pressed against the mother’s pelvis during delivery are also caused by use of delivery forceps. Nerve injuries may involve the facial nerve (lopsided facial expression), brachial plexus (arm and/or hand weakness), phrenic nerve (difficulty breathing), or spinal cord (paralysis). Although nerve injuries can occur through no fault of a physician or midwife, certain injuries caused by your birthing providers may be a result of their mistakes.
Certain fetal complications can be treated in the womb prior to birth. During a woman’s pregnancy, several tests can be performed to determine birth risk to the fetus so medical providers can intervene before birth when possible, including:
- Ultrasound can provide valuable information about the developing fetus so physicians can better manage and care for the pregnancy and fetus, allowing pre-birth intervention in some cases. Types of ultrasound include abdominal and transvaginal which can be performed using 2D, 3D, and 4D imaging. 2D ultrasound provides a still, vague picture of a fetus, while 3D and 4D imaging allow a medical professional to better see abnormalities and problems that may be treated in utero (the womb).
- Group B Streptococcus (GBS) testing is a simple but critical test that should be performed on all pregnant women. GBS is bacteria found in the lower genital tract of approximately 25 percent of all women. When a woman tests positive for GBS, she must be treated with antibiotics during pregnancy or her newborn baby may contract life-threatening infections, including pneumonia and meningitis. GBS may infect the fetus, or a baby may contract it as it passes through the birth canal during labor and delivery.
- Glucose Tolerance and Glucose Challenge Tests A simple blood sample will tell a doctor whether a pregnant woman has gestational diabetes. Typically, these tests are performed between 26 and 28 weeks of pregnancy or sooner if a woman has diabetes risk factors. When a pregnant woman tests positive, she must be treated for gestational diabetes. Untreated gestational diabetes can cause multiple fetal complications and birthing injuries and distress for the baby. When a pregnant woman has gestational diabetes, the combination of high blood glucose levels from the mother and high insulin levels in the fetus result in large deposits of fat which cause the fetus to grow excessively large (macrosomia). Macrosomia may cause a baby to be wedged in the birth canal because of its size and cause injuries. When a baby is unable to be delivered vaginally, a Cesarean section becomes necessary, which may add further complications to both mother and baby. Another complication of gestational diabetes is that it can cause a newborn to have respiratory distress syndrome, a condition that impairs breathing. A pregnant woman’s high glucose level can also lead to preterm birth, which comes with multiple health complications for a newborn and may require months of treatment in a neonatal intensive care unit. The worst outcome for gestational diabetes is that it can cause a baby’s death before or shortly after birth. The complications caused by gestational diabetes if they were treated before a baby was born could have avoided these injuries.
- Fetal Heart Monitoring Throughout pregnancy and during the birth process, fetal heart rate monitoring checks the rate and rhythm of the fetus’ heartbeat. A normal fetal heartbeat is between 110 and 160 beats per minute. Fetal monitoring is important because an abnormal pattern may require a forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery or an emergency cesarean section delivery. Failure to intervene when a fetus has an abnormal heart rate can lead to the fetus’s death. Monitoring should be regularly and consistently performed throughout pregnancy and during labor. When an abnormal heartbeat is detected, intervention can help return the heart rate to the normal range.
- Amniocentesis Through amniocentesis testing, a medical provider can check your fetus’ lung development (fetal lung maturity) to determine whether they are developed enough for birth when you may face an early delivery to prevent pregnancy complications. Amniocentesis testing can also check for treatable health conditions in your baby. Examples include Rh disease, a preventable, dangerous anemia and polyhydramnios, excessive amniotic fluid that can cause premature birth. Failure to provide an amniocentesis when conditions and factors necessitate it may lead to serious complications that could have possibly been prevented.
Because a fetus and newborn baby are so physically vulnerable, when improper medical care and mistakes occur by a physician, midwife, nurse, or other obstetrical or birthing medical professional, your baby can easily be injured. The caring attorneys at Callaway & Wolf in San Francisco serve the Bay Area and will hold those responsible accountable. With our nearly three decades of experience, we have the experience and resources to battle medical malpractice insurance companies for just monetary compensation. As your birth injury attorneys, we’ll investigate what caused the harm done to your baby and review all medical records pertaining to your pregnancy and your baby’s birth.
A physician or midwife’s failure to order appropriate testing so that intervention is possible is a failure of responsibility, and they may be subjected to civil monetary damages in such a case.
When you suspect or know that your baby was injured because of inadequate prenatal care and intervention or birth mistakes, the experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Callaway & Wolf Law Firm can investigate what caused your child’s injuries and identify the full extent of costs and harm. A child injured at birth may require extensive, continuing medical care throughout their lifetime that could cost millions of dollars.
Also, when parents are caring for a disabled child and are unable to continue working as they had before, they may deserve lost income compensative, home modification, medical apparatus, and expensive home help.
As personal injury and birth injury lawyers in San Francisco, Callaway & Wolf’s legal team have secured MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR settlements for those injured through someone else’s mistakes, recklessness, and negligence.
Because birth injury medical malpractice claims are extremely challenging and complex, successful negotiations and litigation may require multiple witnesses to testify as to what happened. Such witnesses may include experts in obstetrics and gynecology, labor and delivery nursing, pediatrics, pediatric neurology, neonatology, placental pathology, maternal-fetal medicine, life care planning, vocational rehabilitation and economics. Obtaining and organizing these witnesses is time-consuming and expensive. But Callaway & Wolf Law Firm has the expertise and financial resources to build medical malpractice birth injury cases.
And building a strong case is imperative to a successful monetary win for your child. When a birth injury claim is filed, the hospital and multiple insurance companies are willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars defending against your birth injury claim.
It’s not going to be easy or simple.
To help you win the monetary compensation your family and child are entitled to, the compassionate, skilled Callaway & Wolf lawyers are prepared to fight on your and your child’s behalf for what may be the fight of your life. As your attorneys, we’ll aggressively and passionately use our experience in negotiation and litigation to navigate your case to the best remediation to either settle the case or try the case through a civil court lawsuit. With over 24 years winning substantial, MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR wins for those injured through no fault of their own, our track record assures you we’ll vigilantly and aggressively fight for the monetary settlement you legally and justly deserve. And though we’ll spend whatever it takes to win your case, we will only get paid when we achieve the financial settlement you and your child deserve.
To discuss your child’s birth injury or inadequate prenatal care will not cost you anything. Because statutes of limitations are strict for birth injury claims, it’s important that you promptly get the information and help you need. During a respectful, compassionate consultation, we’ll attentively listen to what happened and with sensitivity advise you about your options.
For the help you and your child need, call Callaway & Wolf’s skilled medical malpractice and team at (415) 541-0300 to schedule your free meeting in our San Francisco office. Or if you feel more comfortable sending us a message, please fill out our contact form, and someone from our office will be in touch with you promptly.