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If your newborn suffered an injury during birth and you suspect negligence on the part of one or more healthcare providers, fill in the form below or contact Annette Lefebvre Avocats at 514-288-1114 today for a free consultation.
Birth Injury Committed by Doctors, Nurses or Midwives
Birth trauma pertains to injuries sustained by newborns during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or the immediate post-delivery period. The condition can be detected soon after birth or may take longer to become apparent. Despite modern obstetric techniques, birth injuries continue to occur throughout Quebec. The lasting effects of this trauma are often life-altering.
Complications during childbirth can endanger the lives of both mother and child. Medical errors, whether through incompetence or negligence, can cause result in serious problems with lifelong implications. Some of the most common issues are fetal distress, birth injuries, maternal injuries, delayed delivery, and misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose.
Fetal distress may arise due to mistakes during labor and delivery that cause the baby to suffer from oxygen deprivation, resulting in severe brain damage, or even death. Medical errors during delivery can cause physical injuries to the infant, such as nerve damage, broken bones, or brain damage. Additionally, injury to the mother may result from medical errors during delivery, such as significant tears, hemorrhaging or infections.
Delayed delivery, a dangerous situation for both mother and baby, can arise if medical professionals do not promptly act upon signs of fetal distress or consider assisted birth in a labor which is protracted and not progressing.
If medical negligence occurs during childbirth, the injured party may have the right to seek compensation. Healthcare providers are negligent when they do not abide by the expected standard of care, leading to patient harm. Some examples of medical negligence during childbirth may include insufficient monitoring of the baby’s heart rate, failure to recognize that labor is not progressing, delayed delivery or failure to perform a necessary cesarian section, mismanagement of labor or delivery leading to harm for the mother or baby, or failure to diagnose or treat infections or other medical conditions.
Please consult the following section to know more about the most common birth injuries we handle at our firm.
Common Birth Injuries
Depending on their severity, some birth injuries will disappear on their own within weeks or months. Traumatic injuries, however, may result in serious complications as well as long-term or permanent disability.
Babies are at risk for injuries due to medical errors and obstetrical negligence. Some of the most serious cases involve the following:
Cerebral palsy is one of the most dramatic birth injuries. It is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain.
It may occur before the child is born from a genetic disorder, maternal infection or fetal stroke, it can occur during birth as a result of lack of oxygen from a difficult labor or delivery or in infancy from an infection, brain bleed or traumatic injury.
Children with cerebral palsy may experience lifelong issues affecting their mobility, balance, coordination, sensory perception, speech, cognitive abilities, and more.
A patient with cerebral palsy may also experience seizures and tremors.
Bone Fractures During Labour
A traumatic birth can cause multiple bones to break.
Some of the most common birth injury fractures include:
- Broken collarbone or clavicle
- Broken arm bone or humerus
- Broken thigh bone or femur
- Skull fracture
- Fractured orbital socket
Bone fractures may not have a long-term effect on babies who are properly cared for during labour. However, untreated and complex breaks can limit mobility and motor skills and hinder the baby’s development.
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
Oxygen deprivation is medically referred to as hypoxia. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy occurs when a baby’s brain is deprived of oxygen for too long (due to untreated infections, umbilical cord entanglement, prolonged labour, and other issues).
The effects of brain damage caused by HIE are wide-ranging. A child who suffers from HIE may have breathing difficulties, abnormal muscle tone, seizures and significant developmental and cognitive delays.
During delivery a baby may sustain injury to the head. Prolonged labour and misuse of instruments like forceps and vacuum extractors may result in fractures, bruising or scratching of the scalp. Brain damage may also occur depending on the severity of the trauma.
In addition to trauma to the top of the head, injury to a baby’s face during labour and delivery may also carry long-term consequences. For example, if the baby’s facial nerves are damaged, parts of the face may become paralyzed.
Shoulder Dystocia and Brachial Plexus Injuries
A baby’s shoulder can become trapped within the birth canal during labour, causing shoulder dystocia. Specialized maneuvers can be performed by a doctor, midwife, or other birth professional to reposition a baby for delivery.
Failure to perform these maneuvers as well as improper use of forceps or a vacuum extractor may damage the brachial plexus nerves in the baby’s shoulder. Injury to the brachial plexus may result in Erb’s palsy (weakness, dysfunction, and/or paralysis of the affected arm) or Klumpke’s palsy (loss of sensation and paralysis in the lower arm, wrist, and hand).
Pregnancy MisdiagnosisDuring pregnancy, healthcare professionals have a duty to deliver proper prenatal care. The obstetrician’s role is to carefully monitor for any complications that could put mother or baby’s health at risk. Through proper diagnosis and treatment, most pregnancy complications can be avoided. Examples of negligent prenatal care include:
- Failure to recommend appropriate prenatal screening
- Failure to properly perform prenatal ultrasounds
- Failure to diagnose birth defects
- Failure to follow up on abnormal test results
- Failure to monitor blood pressure
- Failure to test for and treat gestational diabetes
- Failure to diagnose and treat preeclampsia
- Failure to recognize signs of early labor
- Failure to detect fetal destress
- Failure to recommend a timely c-section
Midwives can play a critical role in monitoring pregnancies and in the delivery of newborns. Midwives have a legal duty to provide attentive and diligent care. In cases presenting a risk for the mother or baby, midwives have a duty to transfer the patient to a doctor for medical consultation.
Negligent management of pregnancy and labour can cause serious, irreversible harm to mothers and babies, and even death. If your midwife has failed in this duty, you may be able to claim compensation.
Annette Lefebvre Avocats represents victims of birth injury and obstetrical malpractice across Quebec. If you or your baby suffered harm because of medical negligence during childbirth, you may have the right to compensation for various damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
In Quebec, medical malpractice claims arising from childbirth negligence are complex and challenging to navigate without the assistance of a knowledgeable legal professional. Therefore, it is crucial to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can evaluate your case and provide sound advice on the best course of action.
Areas We Serve for Birth Injury
- Montreal Metropolitan Area
- Québec City
- The North Shore: Laval, Terrebonne, Blainville and all surrounding areas
- The South Shore: Longueuil, Brossard, Boucherville, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and all surrounding areas
Our team is equipped to represent clients throughout the province of Quebec. There is no need to come to our office for an appointment and remember, all the Birth Injury cases Annette Lefebvre Avocats handles are on a no-win/no-pay basis, meaning you don’t pay us unless we successfully recover compensation on your behalf.
There are three very specific elements all of which must be present in order to win:
Fault is an act, or failure to act, which falls below the “standard of care’’ for the professional in question. The test in law merely requires that your doctor or nurse act as an average, prudent and diligent professional would act in similar circumstances.
An identifiable injury must have occurred.
If no injury occurred as a result, your lawsuit will not succeed even though a negligent act was committed.
Once fault and injury exist, the question becomes ‘’is the fault the direct cause of the injury?”
Do You Have A Case?
If all of the above elements exist you can claim monetary compensation (also known as “damages”) not only for your physical injury but also for your resulting economic losses, such as loss of past and future income, the cost of medical expenses and cost of care, as well as your resulting psychological damages, namely pain, suffering and inconvenience.
Medical records and expert consultation are essential to determining whether you have a case. Get in touch for a free consultation with one of our lawyers if you or your child have suffered an injury due to medical negligence, misdiagnosis or obstetrical malpractice.