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Chicago birth injury attorneysDuring the process of labor and delivery, a child’s condition should be monitored closely, and medical personnel should respond quickly to any issues that could lead to birth injuries. Electronic fetal monitoring is often used to view and record an infant’s heart rate during labor, and doctors and nurses are trained to recognize the signs of fetal distress. If personnel do not properly interpret fetal heart rate tracings, or if they do not respond correctly to issues that could threaten the health of the child, this may be considered medical malpractice.

Category II vs. Category III Fetal Heart Rate Tracings

When electronic fetal monitoring is used, fetal heart rate (FHR) tracings will typically fall into one of three categories. Category I tracings are considered normal, and they are usually a sign that labor can proceed without risks or complications. Category II or III tracings, however, may indicate that a child is experiencing distress, and action may need to be taken to protect the child’s safety or ensure that delivery can be completed while minimizing the risk of injury.

Category II tracings are considered “indeterminate,” and they may include a slower heart rate than normal (bradycardia) or a rapid heart rate (tachycardia). Category III tracings are more serious, and they may involve rapid acceleration or deceleration of heart rate or repetitive changes that fall outside of normal FHR patterns. Both category II and category III tracings may indicate that a child is experiencing problems that may affect their ability to deliver oxygen to the brain, and lack of oxygen may lead to permanent brain injuries.

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DuPage County birth injury lawyer medical negligenceIn the United States, we have access to the best healthcare in the world. Sadly, even with this level of care, people are often injured due to medical negligence on the part of doctors, nurses, or hospital staff. Any type of medical malpractice injury can have long-lasting negative effects, but birth injuries are especially devastating, and they can have a huge emotional and financial impact on a family.  

Common Birth Injuries

If the medical personnel in a hospital do not take the proper steps before, during, and after a child’s delivery, serious harm can come to the infant or the mother. Some of the most common birth injuries that occur due to medical negligence include:

  • Hypoxia - An infant who suffers from a lack of oxygen during birth can experience serious injuries, including brain damage or organ failure. Hypoxia can occur if medical staff do not properly monitor fetal heart rate or fail to address issues such as a prolapsed umbilical cord or placental abruption.
  • Infections - Newborns are highly susceptible to communicable diseases, and doctors and nurses should take steps to ensure a child’s safety. Failure to maintain proper hygiene during birth or properly treat infections can lead to serious, life-threatening complications.
  • Cerebral palsy - Injury to the brain during birth can lead to this life-long condition, which affects a person’s ability to control their muscles. Brain damage leading to CP can be caused by improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction, hypoxia, failure to treat jaundice, or certain types of infections.
  • Fractures - A child may experience broken bones if a doctor does not properly monitor the position of the child during delivery or uses too much force when extracting the child. Broken collarbones are the most common type of fracture, but a baby’s arms or legs can also be broken during birth, and skull fractures can also occur, leading to hemorrhaging and brain damage.  
  • Brachial plexus injuries - A child may experience injuries to the brachial plexus nerves which control the arms and hands during delivery. Shoulder dystocia, which occurs when a child’s shoulders are not moved through the birth canal correctly, can lead to conditions such as Erb’s palsy or paralysis.

Contact a Cook County Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Thousands of births happen every day, and mistakes made during these procedures can have serious, life-long effects for a family. At Winters Salzetta O'Brien & Richardson, LLC, we understand how birth injuries can impact a family, and we are highly experienced in helping our clients receive the compensation that addresses the physical, emotional, and financial harm done by medical malpractice. In one notable case, we obtained a $2.9 million verdict for a couple whose baby girl died during delivery when nurses failed to identify signs of uterine rupture.

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