A birth injury is defined as harm suffered by a baby during pregnancy or delivery, or upon birth. It can range from cuts and bruises to severe injuries that result in a baby’s death.
Brain injuries are among the most common birth injuries. These often result from oxygen deficiency during pregnancy or delivery, and are a common cause of cognitive impairment. Typically, the longer the length of oxygen deprivation, the more severe the damage to a baby’s brain. Hypoxic injury, which is a partial loss of oxygen, and anoxic injury, which is a total loss of oxygen, can both result in permanent brain damage.
Common types of birth injuries
Other common types of birth injuries include:
- bone fractures
- cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy/brachial plexus palsy
- spinal injury
- facial paralysis
- cervical dystonia
- cuts, bruises, abrasions and haemorrhages.
These birth injuries can all result from natural causes. However, if a birth injury could have been avoided and is the result of negligence on the part of medical practitioners, you could have a valid claim for medical expenses incurred as a result of the injury, as well as compensation for pain and suffering.
Common examples of negligence
Common forms of negligence on the part of a medical practitioner include:
- failure to observe and monitor fetal and/or maternal distress
- failure to diagnose medical issues, or failure to provide the correct diagnosis
- the use of incorrect methods when delivering the baby, including the use of excessive force
- failure to perform an emergency Caesarian section when needed
- not taking the necessary steps to prevent pre-term labour
- failure to treat maternal infections and other medical conditions that can affect the baby’s well-being.
Instituting a personal injury claim for a birth injury
Has your baby suffered injury or harm at the hands of a doctor or hospital? Instituting a personal injury claim can’t make up for what has happened. However, a successful claim may cover costs associated with the injury. It also serves as an important reminder to those responsible for the injury, helping prevent the recurrence of such incidents in future.
If your baby has suffered a birth injury as a result of negligence, it’s important to keep all medical records associated with the birth. Also record any other details that might be relevant, such as the names of relevant healthcare staff, details of what you were told at different points and a record of events, outlining exactly what occurred.
Then seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Claims for birth injuries constitute a particularly complex area within the broader spectrum of medical malpractice litigation, requiring particular resources and expertise.
In South Africa, a judge will decide whether a medical practitioner is liable for a birth injury and what compensation you’re entitled to receive.
How DSC Attorneys can help
If you think you have a claim, contact us and an attorney with extensive experience in the field of medical malpractice can help you build a strong case, so that you receive fair compensation for your baby’s injury.
At DSC Attorneys, we offer a free first consultation and work on a “no win, no fee” basis, so you can file a claim without paying any legal fees upfront.