A woman is suing George Washington University Hospital (GW Hospital) for medical negligence alleging that her son’s birth injury and brain damage are the result of doctors failing to order a Cesarean section (c-section) in a timely manner.
Birth Injury Lawsuit Stems from Traumatic Delivery
An 11 page complaint was filed by the mother on behalf of her son who continues to suffer from the effects of a birth injury that caused brain damage. The lawsuit names GW Hospital and Medical Faculty Associates as defendants. The lawsuit claims that both parties violated the standard of care during labor and delivery.
The woman presented to GW Hospital in 2008 at 39 weeks pregnancy. She was experiencing contractions and had an intestinal strep infection. The lawsuit claims that the infant’s heart rate was erratic, sometimes as low as 30 beats per minute. At other times, it was higher than average. At one point, doctors could not detect a heartbeat at all.
The lawsuit also claims that the woman’s cervix did not open for around two hours before her efforts to give birth vaginally. Rather than order a c-section, the woman says doctors continued to proceed with a “spontaneous vaginal delivery.”
Infant Suffers Brain Damage Birth Injury
When the infant was born, he was in a “depressed and flaccid state.” He suffered from oxygen deprivation and had thick bodily waste below the vocal chords. The lawsuit says,
“As a result of the negligence of these defendants, the Infant Plaintiff has suffered severe, permanent and irreversible brain injury. He will not grow to enjoy a normal childhood, adolescence or adulthood, will not take place as a normal, productive member of society and has sustained neurocognitive and neuromuscular deficits.”
The lawsuit claims that had doctors complied with the standard of care and ordered a c-section, the infant would not have sustained the brain damage he now lives with.
Information about Oxygen Deprivation and Brain Damage
Sadly, oxygen deprivation is a fairly common type of birth injury. Oxygen deprivation occurs in around four out of every 1,000 live births. Delayed birth is one of the factors that more commonly leads to oxygen deprivation. When there is a delay in delivery, the infant is at risk for sustaining prolonged oxygen deprivation, which leads to more severe brain damage.
Estimates suggest that millions of infants experience some type of brain damage each year. Some of these cases are due to medical negligence and/or a birth injury. A delay in delivering an infant who is in distress is one of the more tragic, but common, causes of infant brain damage.
Impact of Brain Damage on Infants
Infants who have brain damage experience a wide variety of symptoms and both short- and long-term consequences. Some of the most common symptoms of brain damage in infants include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Excessive crying
- Excessive fussiness
- Problems with feeding
As infants get older, parents may start to notice other symptoms, such as:
- Developmental delays
- Missing milestones
- Behavioral difficulties
- Changes in vision or hearing
- Sensitivity to light
Any of these symptoms could indicate brain damage, or they could be the sign of another medical problem. For parents, it is best to talk to your child’s doctor if he or she experiences these symptoms. Tell your doctor if your child experienced a difficult birth, oxygen deprivation or another birth injury.
How Doctors Diagnose Brain Damage
To diagnose brain damage, your child’s doctor will consider his or her symptoms and behavior and then run some tests. The tests most commonly used to determine if your child has brain damage include:
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – Uses magnetic fields and radio waves to generate images of the brain.
- Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan – Uses a series of X-ray images to create cross-sectional images of the body. CT scans produce images of bone, soft tissue and blood vessels.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) – Evaluates electrical activity in the brain and detects potential problems.
These tests show doctors your child’s brain from several viewpoints. Tests allow your doctor to see how the brain is communicating and if there is obvious brain damage. This comprehensive approach to diagnosis makes it easier for doctors to create a treatment plan focused on the needs of your child.
How is Infant Brain Damage Treated?
How your child’s brain damage is treated will depend on a variety of factors, such as age, the type of brain injury, the severity and the location. Treatment may also depend on your child’s overall health and if he or she has other associated conditions, such as epilepsy.
Often, treating brain damage includes a multidisciplinary approach. Treatment options may include:
- Cooling therapy
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Adaptive devices
Every child is different and will require an individualized treatment plan based on his or her needs. Talk to your doctor to determine what treatment options are best for you child’s overall health and well-being.
What to Do after a Birth Injury
If your child was injured during birth and you believe that medical negligence was the cause of his or her injury, contact Brown, Christie & Green. Our Houston birth injury lawyers can advise you of your legal rights and possible options you have to hold the responsible party or parties accountable for their negligence.
A birth injury can have a devastating impact on your child and family. If your child’s injury is due to medical negligence, you may be able to recover compensation on his or her behalf. At Brown, Christie & Green, we have helped numerous families recover compensation for medical expenses, therapies, ongoing care, pain and suffering and more.
Find out how we can help you by requesting a free legal consultation. Our team helps clients with cases involving medical malpractice, birth injuries, nursing home abuse and more. Call us toll free at 1-800-600-4210, or fill out our online form to get started.