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The surprising frequency of birth injuries

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When people think of medical malpractice, most think of conniving doctors or wildly incompetent hospital staff. They imagine surgeries being performed on the wrong person, or on the wrong part of the body, or they imagine anesthesia being incorrectly administered. In short, people often associate medical malpractice with gripping terrors, the stuff of horror movies. While this type of medical malpractice certainly does occur, but it isn’t the most common. Instead, most medical malpractice cases are issues of misdiagnosis, medication error, or birth injury. While they may not make for as keen of a horror story, this type of malpractice can be just as damaging as the more dramatic cases. Misdiagnosis or medication error can lead to death or to years of unnecessary treatment. Birth injuries can lead to lifelong paralysis or other permanent injury.

In many cases of birth injury, the trauma could have been avoided with proper planning or training on the part of the medical staff. That is, many birth injuries are caused by negligence on the part of the medical team. Certainly, there are some injuries that simply couldn’t have been prevented. There are times when unexpected complications arise, and nothing the medical staff did or didn’t do could have prevented an injury. However, the preventable birth injuries are arguably the most tragic, and also the most likely to lead to medical malpractice lawsuits. Negligence leading to birth injuries is, unfortunately, more common than you might imagine. But, there are also steps you can take if you become a victim of medical negligence.

The statistics

In the United States, it is estimated that there may be up to 225,000 deaths per year as a result of medical malpractice. However, the vast majority of these cases do not result in an actual malpractice suit, although perhaps the family of the patient could have filed a case against the hospital or doctor in question.

There are many more cases, of course, when medical malpractice does not result in death, but does result in illness or injury. Between six and eight infants out of every 1,000 born in the United States experience some kind of birth injury. This amounts to 28,000 infants born with birth injuries per year. Of these 28,000 birth injuries, as many as 50 percent could have been prevented if proper precautions and interventions had been taken by the medical staff.

Birth injuries are more likely to occur with vaginal, instrument-assisted births, and less likely to occur when instruments are not used. Regardless of how the injury occurred, however, birth injuries can range from mild to severe. In some cases, a birth injury may simply bruise the infant, which will heal on its own with a matter of days. In other cases, a birth injury may result in physical deformity, paralysis, or even death.

What you can do about medical negligence

If your child or the child of a loved one is injured at birth due to negligence, the situation can be incredibly overwhelming. When you add medical bills into the emotional distress of the injury, things can seem like too much to handle. However, an attorney specializing in medical malpractice law can take some of the stress off your shoulders. Although nothing can undo the injury itself, a lawyer can make sure that you have the financial resources to manage and treat the injury as best as possible. A lawyer can also hold the medical staff responsible, which may give you and your family some closure about the situation.

When hiring a lawyer, make sure to find a competent lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice. In larger cities, such as Albany, you should be able to find entire law practice that specialize in medical malpractice cases.

Although birth injuries due to negligence can be overwhelming for those involved, there are ways that you can find the help and support you need to handle the situation as best as possible — and to provide the necessary care for yourself and your family.