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Birth Injuries in Oklahoma

If you experienced an injury during childbirth or you want to pursue a medical malpractice claim for your baby, contact our Oklahoma birth injury lawyers.

The birth of a child should be a joyful occasion. Unfortunately, some Oklahoma families have to cope with the heartbreaking realization that their newborn has sustained a birth injury and must then try to grasp how that will affect their lives and the life of their baby. The situation is more devastating when a doctor who you trusted to deliver your baby may have caused a preventable birth injury.

It’s understandable for new parents in this situation to be unsure where to turn or what to do. A good first step is to gather information by speaking with a compassionate Oklahoma City birth injury attorney. We will meet with you and explain your legal options at no charge. We are dedicated to helping families who have been injured as a result of medical negligence.

Birth Injuries and the Law in Oklahoma

Some birth injuries are unavoidable. But a birth injury caused by a preventable error by a doctor or hospital may entitle an Oklahoma family to seek compensation to cover their medical expenses and other losses. Under Oklahoma law, medical negligence occurs when the care provided by a physician or health professional is substandard and leads to a birth injury or death. When a medical providers’ substandard care was the cause of a birth injury, the negligent health care professional may be held liable in a birth injury lawsuit.  A doctor, nurse, hospital or birthing center, or other health provider may be held liable for medical negligence.

Safety Scores of Oklahoma Hospitals

Click on a map marker to view the hospital name and Consumer Reports Safety Score.

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Oklahoma’s Statute of Limitations for Obstetrician Malpractice

If a pregnant woman sustains an injury caused by medical negligence during the birthing process, she or her family has two years to file a medical malpractice claim under Oklahoma law.

If a baby suffers a birth injury, Oklahoma allows seven years from the date of the harmful act for birth injury medical malpractice claims to be filed. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations and it allows for the fact that some injuries to newborns are not apparent at birth. In other words, if you believe your baby suffered a preventable birth injury, you have until their seventh birthday to bring legal action if the injury occurred during delivery.

Birth injury cases take time to obtain medical records and review whether a preventable error occurred. It is important to consult with a knowledgeable birth injury attorney as soon as possible if you suspect your baby was harmed by a birth injury.

Answers to Your Birth Injury Questions

Many families who have sustained a birth injury have questions about how to proceed and what to expect. We have compiled a list of common questions.

What Causes a Birth Injury?

A doctor’s failure to monitor a patient closely and identify signs of a high-risk birth during the pregnancy and errors by doctors and obstetrical teams during the birthing process can lead to a birth injury. Any of the following errors can cause a preventable birth injury:

  • Failure to recognize health problems in the mother during pregnancy, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, infections, problems with the umbilical cord or an abrupted placenta.
  • Inadequate monitoring of the baby during the birth process to identify signs of fetal or maternal distress, including lack of oxygen or changes in the baby’s heart rate.
  • Failure to identify or respond appropriately to a breech birth, or cephalo-pelvic disproportion, which describes a condition in which the baby’s head is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis.
  • Aggressive use of forceps, vacuum or other instruments during delivery.
  • A delay in ordering a C-section during a difficult delivery, exposing the mother or baby to risk of injury.
  • Administering the wrong medication or the wrong amount of medication prior to or during delivery.
  • Pulling too hard or pressing too hard on the baby during delivery.
What are the Common Types of Birth Injuries?

Some of the most serious birth injuries include:

  • Cerebral palsy. This condition can result from oxygen deprivation in the child’s brain during the birth process, such as when a C-section is not done quickly enough or when the umbilical cord gets wrapped around the baby’s neck. Children with cerebral palsy often have trouble with body movement, posture, talking and learning.
  • Brachial plexus injuries. The brachial plexus is a series of nerves that connect the spinal cord to the neck and arms, controlling movement in the shoulders, arms, fingers and hands. If the doctor applies too much force to the baby’s delicate body during delivery, the nerves in the brachial plexus can suffer permanent damage.
  • Erb’s palsy. A type of brachial plexus injury, Erb’s palsy can result from the stretching of the baby’s neck during delivery. This condition impairs the normal movement of the child’s arm.
  • Klumpke’s palsy. Another type of brachial plexus injury, Klumpke’s palsy causes paralysis of the hand.
  • Shoulder dystocia. When the infant’s shoulders get wedged behind the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery, it can cause damage to the baby’s head or shoulders known as shoulder dystocia.
  • Ischemia. Ischemia is a reduction in oxygen to the brain, and it can cause brain damage. In severe cases, this can cause developmental delays, mental retardation, neuromuscular disorders or death.
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension. Studies have shown that mothers who take certain antidepressants are at risk of delivering a baby with PPHN —a lift-threatening heart condition. Antidepressants have also been linked to other heart defects in infants.
  • Skull fractures. The aggressive use of forceps or other instruments to extract the baby may cause a fracture.
What’s the Difference Between a Birth Defect and a Birth Injury?

A birth defect is typically a structural abnormality such as a cleft palate or a heart defect that develops during pregnancy and is present at birth. Birth defects can have an adverse effect on a baby’s development and unfortunately not all birth are preventable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a baby is born with a birth defect approximately every four-and-a-half minutes.

Birth injuries such as nerve damage or skull fractures occur just before or during the delivery process when a baby is passing through the birth canal. They are typically preventable injuries caused by a doctor’s failure to anticipate birth complications or to respond quickly enough to signs of fetal distress and deliver a baby by C-section.

How Do I Know if Medical Negligence Caused My Child’s Birth Injury?

Unfortunately, neither your obstetrician nor a birthing center or hospital is likely to be forthright with you if they made a harmful error during your delivery. If you suspect your child was harmed by a preventable error, the only way that you will find out what really happened is to seek some help. A compassionate medical malpractice attorney at Burch, George & Germany will review your medical records and go over your legal options. We hire recognized medical experts to analyze your records and determine whether a doctor or other health care provider failed to do what other health professionals in Oklahoma would have done in a similar situation.

If it can be shown that the doctor violated the recognized standard of medical care, then the doctor can be held liable for the injuries caused as a result of his or her negligence.

How Can an Attorney Help Me in a Birth Injury Case?

The compassionate birth injury lawyers at Burch, George & Germany will gather evidence showing that medical negligence caused your baby’s birth injury. Our law firm has the resources to take on these complicated cases, determine what really happened and develop an effective legal strategy based on the specific facts. We will estimate the present and future costs of the birth injury to seek monetary compensation that covers all of your losses. We will contact the health provider’s insurance provider and discuss a fair settlement. If the insurance company declines to do what is right, we will file a birth injury medical malpractice lawsuit in the appropriate Oklahoma court.

In many instances, a settlement is reached before trial. But if we cannot obtain a satisfactory settlement, we will proceed to trial. Our attorneys are experienced trial attorneys and we are not afraid to take on large medical malpractice insurance companies. We have tried numerous cases to a successful conclusion.

Preparing for Childbirth in Oklahoma

burch george birth injury page images couple babyConsider enrolling in a childbirth class and don’t delay because classes fill up!  A childbirth class will help you focus and educate you about the stages of labor and what you should expect.

Make a point to discuss with your doctor his or her philosophy about the use of Cesarean sections and pain management.

Call your health insurance provider before your baby is born and find out how to add your baby to your insurance coverage. It’s good to have a clear understanding of your insurance benefits for delivery and maternity care.

Choosing an Obstetrician

burch george birth injury page images calPregnant women should see a doctor within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if possible. Seek a doctor who will take the time to listen and answer your questions. Ask friends and family for recommendations. Proper prenatal care early in a pregnancy during the first trimester helps to pinpoint important treatable health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure and improves the chances of a healthy pregnancy.

Approximately 68 percent of women in Oklahoma received prenatal care starting in the first trimester in 2012, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health.

What is a Low-Risk Delivery?

burch george birth injury page images low riskAmong the factors that qualify an expectant mother for a low-risk delivery are that the woman has not had a previous Cesarian section, that she is pregnant with one baby who is properly positioned, and that she has not previously delivered prematurely.

What is a High-Risk Delivery?

burch george birth injury page images high riskCertain factors such as an expectant mother’s age and underlying health conditions make her more likely to have a high-risk delivery.  A previous C-section, a low birth weight baby, a family history of genetic conditions or a previous baby born prematurely are factors that contribute to a high-risk delivery. If a woman has high blood pressure, diabetes, anemia or epilepsy, these conditions increase the pregnancy risks. Lifestyle choices such as smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs can be harmful to an unborn child and create a high-risk delivery The delivery risks are also higher for a woman carrying twins or a higher number of fetuses.

Perinatal Safety

Labor and delivery departments at hospitals operate 24 hours a day and are subject to unpredictable surges in demand.  A hospital should have in place a perinatal safety program that emphasizes prevention of errors that can cause harm during the delivery process, including birth trauma. Delivery teams should be trained to handle high-risk situations such as emergency Cesarean sections, maternal hemorrhage and shoulder dystocia.

Here are six common breakdowns in perinatal safety that can lead to a birth injury:
  • Failure to recognize signs of fetal distress;
  • Failure to complete a Cesarean section when maternal or fetal conditions dictate;
  • Failure to monitor vital signs and signs of hemorrhage after a Cesarean section;
  • Inappropriate use of labor-inducing drugs such as Oxytocin, forceps or vacuum;
  • Failure to control the blood pressure of women with hypertension;
  • Failure to resuscitate a depressed newborn infant in distress.

The Impact that a Birth Injury Has on an Oklahoma Family

A baby who has sustained a birth injury will require additional attention and financial resources. The parents of a child who has sustained a birth injury may have to restructure their work schedule around treatments and therapy sessions. The family may face thousands of dollars of unexpected medical bills and rehabilitation costs related to the injury. The parents may feel financial stress, caregiver burnout and have to cope with depression.   The challenges of caring for the baby can affect the entire family. You don’t have to carry that burden alone though.

Our compassionate Oklahoma City birth injury attorneys are ready to assist a family with a baby who was harmed as a result of medical negligence.

What You Can Recover from a Birth Injury Malpractice Lawsuit

burch george birth injury page images PQ1Oklahoma law entitles the parents of a baby who sustains a birth injury to seek monetary compensation for past and future medical care, reimbursement of lost income, and compensation for emotional distress and pain and suffering.

Oklahoma law limits the amount of non-economic damages that may be recovered in a medical malpractice lawsuit for pain and suffering and emotional distress to $350,000, unless the injury was caused by gross medical negligence or involved a wrongful death.

Talk to an Experienced Oklahoma Birth Injury Lawyer for Legal Help

The experience Oklahoma City medical malpractice lawyers at Burch, George & Germany, P.C. have the resources necessary to help the parents of a child with a disability that was caused by a birth injury.

We are selective about the cases we take. All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, which means we only receive a fee if clients receive compensation. Find out how we can help you with your Oklahoma birth injury case.

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