Every year, hundreds of babies in Los Angeles County are born into the world seriously handicapped because of medical negligence. Birth injuries are among the most devastating injuries that can occur when a doctor or nurse is careless or inattentive. If a mother’s prenatal course is routine and there is no indication of any problems with the fetus she is carrying, the parents anxiously await their new arrival. They pick out names and dream about the future with their new little boy or girl.
When things go awry during the labor or delivery and the baby is born with brain damage or is otherwise injured, everything the parents hoped for and planned is shattered. The baby may have to remain in the hospital long after the mother is discharged, so there are frequent trips back to the hospital. Preparing the home for the baby’s discharge is no longer about the color of the nursery or the style of the crib. There may be equipment that must be obtained and medical techniques to be learned.
Caring for a special needs child is a full-time job for one of the parents. Sadly, the full impact of the injury to a birth-injured child often will not be evident until the child is several years old. A special needs infant is easy to carry; a four-year old who cannot sit or walk is much more difficult to transport. Even transferring such a child from his bed to a wheelchair can be challenging. It is often at this point that the parents realize what the future will hold for them and their child. It is also at this point when they are likely to ask why it happened. This is also the point at which the parents may consult a lawyer.
What are the most common causes of birth injury and how can they be prevented? We will look at these issues in the next installments of this series.