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Birth Injuries2018-12-20T13:35:15+00:00

WHAT IS A BIRTH INJURY*?

For most people, pregnancy and giving birth is one of the happiest times of their lives. However, if things go wrong, it can be a very traumatic time for parents.

Birth injury claims involving children who are injured during the course of labour, delivery and in the neonatal period are some of the most tragic, emotional and distressing types of medical negligence cases that come before the Courts.

During the birth process, a baby may suffer a physical injury*. This is called birth trauma or birth injury*. A baby’s size and position during labour and delivery can lead to a difficult birth and cause an injury to the baby. There are several types of birth injuries*, including neurological and physical injuries*, that can commonly occur as a result of complications during pregnancy, labour, or childbirth. The types of birth injuries* that can occur can be temporary or can result in extensive and long-term damage.

Typical injuries* that lead to a birth injury compensation claim are often related to the baby not receiving sufficient oxygen during or just before delivery. This can be caused by inadequate monitoring, failure to diagnose a condition, the mother experiencing complications during the birth or improper handling of the baby once it is born. A reduction in the supply of oxygen to the brain may cause brain damage or lead to some other form of permanent disability, such as cerebral palsy.

Medical negligence can cause several types of birth injuries*.

The following are examples of birth injuries* that can lead to claims for compensation:

The development of cerebral palsy is one of the most serious types of birth injury* that a child can develop. The term cerebral palsy is used to describe a medical condition that affects control of the muscles. Due to an injury* to the brain, the sufferer is unable to use some of the muscles in their body in the normal way. There are different types of cerebral palsy including spastic quadriplegia or hemiplegia, dyskinetic cerebral palsy, hypotonic or ataxic cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury* to the brain before, during, or shortly after birth. Problems during birth such as the baby not getting enough oxygen, or a difficult delivery in which the baby’s brain is injured may result in cerebral palsy.

Some babies born with cerebral palsy do not show obvious signs right away. Classically, cerebral palsy becomes evident when the baby does not reach developmental milestones and where preferential use of limbs, asymmetry or gross motor developmental delay is seen.

Brachial Palsy (Erb’s palsy) occurs when the brachial plexus (the group of nerves that supplies the arms and hands) is injured. It is common when there is difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder, called shoulder dystocia. The baby loses the ability to flex and rotate the arm. Brachial plexus injuries* can result in lifelong physical disability.

fracture of the clavicle or collarbone is the most common fracture during labour and delivery. The clavicle may break when there is difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder or during a breech delivery.

Caput is a severe swelling of the soft tissues of the baby’s scalp that develops as the baby travels through the birth canal.

During labour or birth, pressure on the baby’s face may cause the facial nerve to be injured. This may also occur with the use of forceps for delivery. The injury* is often seen when the baby cries when there is no movement on the side of the face and the eye cannot close.

This relates to a problem with the formation of the hip joint. The location of the problem can be either the ball of the hip joint (femoral head), the socket of the hip joint (the acetabulum), or both.

Neonatal hypoglaecemia is an abnormally low level of blood glucose which can cause long-term brain damage.

Many of the common types of birth injuries* can be prevented when proper medical protocol is adhered to.

If a hospital is negligent in their handling of a birth which leads to a baby developing Cerebral Palsy or any of the other birth injuries listed above, then an action for medical negligence may arise.

CONTACT US

Would you like to speak to a solicitor about your case?
Call us today on 01 6770044 or email us at info@rmcm.ie

INSTRUCTING A SOLICITOR

Compensation from a successful claim can help to pay for the necessary care and therapy needs of the child.

Birth injuries which occur as a result of medical negligence and which could have been avoided may give rise to a medical negligence claim against the responsible health care provider and/or hospital liable for causing the injury.

The current law in Ireland requires that a person must take an action for medical negligence, which includes a birth injury claim, within two years of the date of the event which resulted in the injury. This requires a Plaintiff in a medical negligence claim to act expeditiously.

However, birth injury compensation claims can be made by a parent, acting as a “next friend”, of a child who has suffered a birth injury at any time up until the child’s eighteenth birthday. Thereafter, the child has two years to make a birth injury compensation claim in their own right. However, it is recommended that as soon as you believe your child has suffered a birth injury as a result of negligence, you contact an experienced solicitor who can assist you in the first steps in pursuing a birth injury compensation claim.

In order to succeed in a birth injury claim, it will be necessary to prove that a duty of care existed, that there was a breach of that duty of care, and that there is a causal connection between the breach of that duty and the resultant injury, loss or damage.

It is imperative to engage an appropriate expert, such as an obstetrician, to furnish his/her opinion on whether the care provided fell below an acceptable standard resulting in a breach of duty.  Once a breach of duty has been established, the next steps are to prove that an injury occurred and that there is a connection between that breach of duty and the injury sustained. This will typically require reports and opinions from a number of specialists including experts in neonatology, paediatric neurology and/or paediatric neuroradiology.

Our experienced solicitors will then review the set of obstetric/neonatal records to see if there might be evidence available to link the child’s injury to intrapartum events, for example, so as to justify commencing a pre-action investigation. We would usually be looking out for the following:

  • Evidence of foetal distress in labour
  • The cord blood pH
  • Condition at birth (Apgar score)
  • Encephalopathy in the first 72 hours of life
  • Evidence available from radiological investigations including MRI scanning
  • Evidence of hypoxic-ischemic injury

CLIENT TESTIMONIALS

The first thing on my ‘to do’ list was to email you to say a big thank you to you and to Jessica for all the support you gave to me over the past year.
I received a stellar service from your firm and most particularly Jessica who was a delight to deal with.
While the outcome was beyond my expectations, so too was the service I received from your firm. I will be in touch with Jessica separately to thank her.

McMahon Goldrick Solicitor Client

Hi Jessica and Ralph…the day of negotiations in the High Court was yet another major turning point in our son’s life.
Looking back now we recognise that day as the day his future was secured… you and your staff have not only made a huge impact on his life, you have made an impact on our entire extended family’s lives. As a family, we will be forever grateful for the care and attention you paid to his case.

McMahon Goldrick Solicitors Client

Dear Jessica and Ashley, we would like to convey our thanks to both you and the team. We appreciate the consistency, professionalism, help and service you provided through our long and complex case. Through effective communication, support and advice the case came to a satisfactory conclusion. Your hard work and friendliness is greatly appreciated.

McMahon Goldrick Solicitor Client

Hi Jessica, John and I would like to convey our thanks to you both and the team. We appreciate the consistency, professionalism, help and service you provided through our long and complex case. Through effective communication support and advice the case came to a satisfactory conclusion. Your hard work and friendliness is greatly appreciated.

McMahon Goldrick Solicitors Client

CONTACT US

Would you like to speak to a solicitor about your case?
Call us today on 01 6770044 or email us at info@rmcm.ie