Articles Posted in Birth Injuries

Baby in BlanketCourt Upholds $3 Million Verdict for Failing to Warn of Birth Defects

According to one news source, a court of appeals recently upheld a $3 million verdict against a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson after a baby was born with severe birth injuries as a result of medication taken during the mother’s pregnancy. The baby’s parents brought a claim against the company, and the jury found the company liable for failing to warn the mother’s doctors of the risk of birth injuries if she took Topamax during her first trimester.

The mother took Topamax, a drug prescribed to help prevent seizures and migraine headaches. While she was pregnant, she took the drug to treat migraines—but she did not know of the dangerous effects it could have on her baby. Research has shown that 3.8 percent of children exposed to Topamax in utero during the first trimester have oral birth defects. In particular, cleft lip and cleft palate are known risks.

The couple’s daughter was born with a bilateral cleft palate and lip. The girl has had to undergo over 14 procedures, including surgeries, to treat the birth defects. She has also suffered hearing loss, speech difficulties, and bullying because of her speech and appearance. The parents were awarded $1.5 million for future health care expenses, and their daughter was awarded $1.5 million in non-economic damages.

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In a recent case, a plaintiff filed suit against a doctor and a prenatal care center after her baby sustained an injury during birth. However, the case was dismissed because the statute of limitations had passed, and the court rejected the plaintiff’s “equitable tolling” argument.

S/W Ver: 85.83.E9P

The plaintiff, an Illinois resident, was pregnant and went to a health center for prenatal care. She attended 12 visits at the Will County Community Health Center in Joliet, Illinois. In September 2008, the plaintiff sought treatment at an emergency room after experiencing abdominal pain. The emergency room doctor decided to induce labor, and the plaintiff began to give birth. During the birth, the plaintiff’s daughter became stuck and sustained an injury to her arm. After birth, the baby was diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy, a condition involving weakness of the arm due to an injury of the brachial plexus, a nerve cluster located in the shoulder. At the hospital, the baby’s arm was put in a sling due to the injury.

In May 2011, the plaintiff filed suit under the Federal Tort Claims Act against the health center and the emergency room doctor. Under the Act, a claim must be filed within two years after it accrues. The court found that the claims against the emergency room doctor and the health center accrued sometime in September 2008, shortly after the birth. Since the mother experienced a difficult delivery, and the baby was diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy, she had enough information to look into whether they caused the baby’s injury. Thus, the statute of limitations expired two years later, in September 2010.

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The birth of a new baby is an exciting time. However, most often mothers and babies are at the mercy of the hospital or medical provider where they are receiving care during the birth. They rely on the medical staff to care for them and to make sure that everything goes smoothly. Unfortunately, medical staff can make mistakes, which may carry serious consequences. A recent case demonstrated an instance in which a hospital’s careless error caused the baby permanent injuries.

pills-pills-pills-3-1326912According to one news source, the plaintiff’s daughter was born in 2009. The mother was an active air force captain and gave birth at a military hospital. When the mother was in the hospital getting ready to have a planned Cesarean-section delivery, she was given a medication to which she was allergic. That allergy was documented in her medical records at the hospital. When the mother then had an allergic reaction, she was given an antihistamine, which made her blood pressure drop and deprived her baby of oxygen.

The daughter, who is now six years old, suffered brain and nerve damage as a result. Those medical issues forced her to undergo occupational and physical therapy each week. She also has to wear leg braces and requires special accommodations at school.

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Everybody hopes for a healthy baby. Nowadays, pregnant mothers are tested and retested for dangerous genetic conditions that can cause a baby to be born with severe impairments, and multiple ultrasounds of a baby in utero are not uncommon even during healthy pregnancies.

a-baby-s-coming-1442252Despite these precautions, sometimes medical errors are made during a mother’s pregnancy or at the time of birth that cause a child to be born with significant impairments or even die during childbirth. In Illinois, these errors may amount to negligence, or what is called medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs in childbirth cases when a doctor or hospital employee fails to provide the same level of care that other obstetric healthcare providers would provide under similar circumstances, and this failure, or breach, causes an injury to a baby.

Birth injuries come in many forms. Sometimes, the injuries are physical, and a baby’s shoulders or arms possess limited function as a result of a doctor’s malpractice. Other times, the injuries are to a baby’s brain. Perhaps a doctor made an improper use of a birthing tool or failed to provide a timely Cesarean section procedure, and the error resulted in a baby having severe brain damage that may last a lifetime or may even result in death.

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