The birth of your baby should be a time of joy, but when medical mistakes during labor and delivery lead to an infant skull fracture, your world can be turned upside down. Unfortunately, errors by health care professionals are all too common, even during the birthing process. You do have rights to hold providers accountable, but these medical malpractice claims can be complex. You can trust our skull fracture lawyers at the Preszler Law Firm to assist with the complex legal issues, so please call 1-844-373-8202 to set up a free consultation today. Some important information may also be useful in helping you navigate the process.
How Birth-Related Skull Fractures Happen
There are multiple ways your baby may suffer a skull fracture during labor or delivery, such as:
- Improper Use of a Birth-Assisting Device: Your physician and/or delivery room staff may make errors in usage of a vacuum extractor or forceps when maneuvering the infant through the birth canal.
- Excessive Force: A doctor and delivery personnel may use too much force to pull your baby into a favorable position for the birthing process.
- Undiagnosed Cephalon-Pelvic Disproportion (CPD): This medical condition may occur when the mother’s pelvis is not capable of allowing the infant to pass through the birth canal. CPD may result from a small pelvis, formation of tissue within the pelvis, a large fetus, an adverse positioning of the infant, or a combination of these issues.
- Cesarean Section Errors: Typically, the mistake with a C-section is not the procedure itself, but rather the decision process of the physician. A doctor may delay the decision to perform a C-section, or may choose to not order the procedure at all. In some cases, the erroneous decision leads to one of other mistakes above: Delivery room staff must engage in excessive force or rush to use a birth-assisting device because the call is not made to operate.
Common Symptoms of Skull Fractures in Infants
Any type of birth-related injury to an infant can be difficult to identify because your baby can not tell you what is wrong. He or she can only communicate pain through constant crying and other outward expressions of discomfort. However, besides changes in mood and demeanor, there are other signs that your infant has suffered a skull fracture.
- If your newborn’s skull reveals swelling or bruising, there may be a fracture near the affected area.
- Some infants who are victims of a skull fracture will have disfigurements in the shape of the head. It is important to not mistake this symptom for a “soft spot,” where your baby’s skull plates are still forming for the first few weeks after birth.
- An infant who sustains a skull fracture may have blood or other fluids emanating from the ears, eyes, and nose. Again, it is critical to avoid mistaking the fluid for tears, mucus, or other substances that are normal in a healthy baby.
If a skull fracture is misdiagnosed or left untreated, your baby may suffer a series of seizures or strokes. These medical events are a result of the brain swelling near the area of the fracture. Too much pressure around the brain could lead to permanent brain damage.
Treatment, Complications, and Long-Term Consequences of an Infant Skull Fracture
As the parent of a child who suffered head injuries during labor or delivery, you likely have many questions and concerns about the nature of skull fractures. Some answers may be helpful:
What health conditions result from a birth-related skull fracture? Some minor fractures may heal on their own, as infant bone tissue grows at an extremely high rate as compared to adults and older children. However, if the skull fracture results in bleeding in the brain, seizures, or stroke, there could be long-term brain damage, cognitive delays, or even death.
How is a skull fracture treated? For a minor fracture, you may simply need to protect the area until the skull plates fuse together and monitor the affected area. Medical staff should also watch for signs of edema, a swelling of the brain that is a natural response of the infant’s body. However, this swelling should not be mistaken for bleeding in the brain, which could eventually leak out through the nose, eyes, or ears as described above.
If the swelling does indicate a more serious medical condition, a health care provider may need to drain the fluid that is building pressure in the brain. In the most severe cases, a physician may need to remove a section of the skull to alleviate pressure. Though rare, a surgeon may remove a piece of the brain, but only when the tissue is irrevocably damaged from the skull fracture. In such a situation, the infant will suffer permanent harm, depending upon which area of the brain is affected.
Is an infant skull fracture a preventable mistake? In almost every case, a birth-related skull fracture is preventable. The delay or failure to order a C-section is the most common reason that these types of injuries occur.
What are my rights as the parent of a child who suffered a skull fracture? You can recover compensation for all losses that result from your infant’s birth-related injuries. Potential responsible parties may include your obstetrician, attending nurses, and other delivery room staff. Still, you must be able to prove that your health care providers were negligent, either through their conduct or decisions. The key is showing that another doctor with the same training would have acted differently, and that your physician deviated from the standard of care during the birthing process.
Are there any limitations on my claim for compensation? Yes, there is a time restriction on filing a lawsuit for birth-related injuries. Ontario’s Limitations Act gives you two years from the date your child suffered the skull fracture. In addition, there is a cap on claims for medical practice. You can only recover up to $300,000 in damages unless the circumstances dictate otherwise.
A Knowledgeable Birth Injuries Lawyer Can Provide More Information on Skull Fractures
If your child sustained a skull fracture during the birthing process, it is important to consult with an experienced birth injuries lawyer right away. Please contact Preszler Law Firm at 1-844-373-8202 to schedule a free consultation, and check out our website to learn more about our legal services.