When you trust your own life and that of your infant to health care providers assisting with the birth process, you expect the highest level of professionalism. However, physicians and other delivery room staff can make mistakes. If their decisions or acts result in a broken bone for your baby, you may have a legal claim for compensation. Our bone fracture lawyers at the Preszler Law Firm can explain your rights and options, so please call 1-844-373-8202 to schedule a free consultation. An overview of birth-related medical claims may also be useful.
Signs and Symptoms of Birth-Related Bone Fractures
Broken bones in infants can be difficult to detect because the baby can not tell you the source of the pain. You may notice changes in demeanor, ranging from general discomfort to continuous crying. However, some other physical signs that your child may have suffered a bone fracture in the legs, arms, or elsewhere include:
- Swelling around the broken bone;
- Redness and bruising in the affected area;
- Inability to move the limb that suffered the fracture;
- Deformity in the affected area when you compare it to the other side; or,
- A painful reaction when you touch the affected area.
Studies have shown that fractures involving the clavicle, which is the collarbone, are the most common form of birth injury. The bone may break during a stressful, difficult labor process, especially when the physician and delivery room staff must implement forceps or other medical devices to assist with the birth process. There are specific symptoms that are related to a clavicle fracture.
- You may notice immobility of the affected area, which will usually be the arm on the side where the fracture occurred.
- The shoulder on the side of the broken collarbone may droop as compared to the healthy side.
- A hard lump may be visible within a few weeks after the injury occurs.
- As with other bone fractures, your baby may cry out in pain when you touch or move the affected area.
Parents and caretakers should be vigilant and proactive about any type of birth-related bone fracture, as the bone tissue of infants heals at a very rapid rate as compared to adults and older children. The fracture could lead to permanent issues when the bone grows back with a deformity or affects surrounding tissue.
Bone Fractures and Preventable Mistakes
Birth-related bone fractures are usually preventable with proper care by health care providers during labor and delivery. Because stress is the most common cause of infant broken bones, especially the clavicle, one of the most preventable mistakes involves making the call for a medically assisted birth. A physician who waits too long or does not ever order an emergency cesarean section could be accountable for deviating from the standard of care.
A related preventable mistake may occur when the doctor fails to order a C-section, and instead improperly pulls the infant to assist it in passing through the birth canal. In some situations, the provider may use a forceps or other device to assist with delivery. The physical stress on the infant and mother could both have been avoided by performing a C-section. The circumstances may involve two instances of medical error:
- The flawed decision to not order a C-section; and,
- The need to apply physical force or medical device to accomplish the delivery.
In addition, birth-related bone fractures can occur in a natural labor and delivery, even when there is no apparent stress to the infant or mother. A physician or attending staff may pull on the baby’s limbs from an unnatural angle or with too much force. Broken bones may also result from health care providers lifting the infant by the arms instead of properly cradling the back and neck.
Though extremely rare, there are reports of delivery room staff dropping the infant after birth, leading to skull fractures, broken bones, and other severe injuries.
You May be Entitled to Compensation for an Infant Bone Fracture
The basis of a birth-related bone fracture is medical malpractice, which is similar in some ways to a personal injury case. Still, there are specific facts you must present to prove that you are entitled to compensation for a broken bone due to medical error. The four essential elements include:
- A patient-provider relationship, which is always the case for a medical staff who are present for labor and delivery;
- A medically negligent act that occurred while providing care;
- A connection between the act of medical negligence and the broken bone; and,
- Damages that resulted from the bone fracture.
The key that makes birth-related medical malpractice different from other personal injury claims is element #2. Physicians and other health care providers are held to a higher standard than laypersons who may be negligent in routine activities. You must be able to prove that the doctor’s conduct or decisions deviate from the proper standard of care. This usually involves looking at how another provider with the same training, under the same circumstances, would have acted. For instance, you may not have a claim if another doctor:
- Would have also avoided ordering a C-section;
- Would have applied the same amount of force to assist your baby through the birth canal; or,
- Would have used a forceps or other birth-assisting medical device.
Legal Limitations on Infant Bone Fracture Claims
There are two legal issues that may affect your right to compensation after a birth-related bone fracture, including:
- Under Ontario’s Limitations Act, you have two years from the date of the injury or discovery of the injury to file suit; and,
- There is a cap on medical negligence claims, so you may not be able to recover compensation in excess of $300,000.
Speak with a Dedicated Birth Injuries Lawyer About Infant Bone Fractures
If your baby suffered a broken bone as a result of decisions or actions during the birth process, you may have a claim against a physician, attending staff, or other health care providers. For more information on your legal remedies, please contact Preszler Law Firm. You can call 1-844-373-8202 or go online to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced birth injuries lawyers.