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When a family member, friend or loved one announces that they are expecting it’s usually a moment of excitement. As key milestones are reached during the pregnancy – the first heartbeat, the first movement or kick – the anticipation grows. While the months leading up to a birth can be nerve-wracking and tense, you know the indescribable joy you expect to feel when you first set eyes on the baby or hold her in your arms will be well worth the wait.
This is the kind of birth story we all hope for, and one that many of us will experience. Sadly, others will not be a fortunate. Each year the moment of joy we anticipate at birth will instead become one of sadness, anger and grief for some pregnant women and their loved ones. They will learn a newborn has experienced a birth injury that may cause disfigurement, disability, or even premature death.
Despite the best efforts of medical practitioners, some of these injuries may be unavoidable. However, if a medical provider’s negligence or incompetence breaches standards of care and cause harm to a pregnant woman, her fetus or her baby, it’s called obstetrical malpractice. When the negligent actions, inaction or incompetence of another person has hurt you or someone your love, you may be able to receive compensation and damages for the pain, suffering and losses you’ve endured.
Obstetrical Malpractice and Common Birth Injuries
Preventable birth injuries caused by obstetrical malpractice can occur at any stage of a pregnancy, during labour and delivery, or in the period immediately following birth. For example, if a medical provider neglects to properly manage maternal health conditions, fails to administer standard tests to screen for abnormalities or misinterprets results, misdiagnoses a condition requiring prompt attention, uses inappropriate force during delivery, or is negligent in monitoring a newborn during the critical postpartum period, it can lead any number of serious birth injuries.
Some common birth injuries include:
- Brain damage and related conditions such as cerebral palsy. Damage to the brain can be caused by untreated maternal or in utero infections, oxygen deprivation or absence (perinatal asphyxia, anoxia or hypoxia), placental insufficiency, birth trauma, or post-birth conditions (severe untreated jaundice causing neurotoxic kernicterus). Symptoms such as fetal tachycardia (abnormally high heart rate) often point to the possible of brain damage from fetal distress (low oxygen or nutrients).
- Spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, broken bones. Undiagnosed or misdiagnosed birth defects such as spina bifida (the failure of vertebrae to enclose around the nerves in the spinal column) can lead to debilitating injuries. Improper use of force when dealing with shoulder dystocias (the baby’s head is delivered but it’s shoulder remain wedged behind the pelvic bone) or other forced extractions can also lead to brachial plexus injuries, brachial palsies, broken bones and nerve and soft tissue damage/scarring.
- Meconium aspiration syndrome. If the first fetal fecal matter (meconium) is released prior to birth (often due to fetal distress), the baby may ingest a mixture of amniotic fluid and meconium in its lungs, obstructing airways and leading to oxygen deprivation, possible infection, or other organ damage.
When You’ve Been Hurt, We Can Help
A serious birth injury can change the course of a life in a matter of moments. Debilitating injuries that cause pain, suffering and loss or disabilities requiring ongoing care, rehabilitative therapy and other accommodations often require financial resources to manage or overcome. You should not have to pay for all of these services on your own if a medical provider’s negligence or incompetence caused or contributed to such an injury.
The birth injury lawyers at Howie, Sacks and Henry are ready and able to help you in Halifax if you or a loved one have been a victim of obstetrical malpractice. Our knowledgeable, skilled and experienced team is well-known for our ability to take on even the most complicated cases. Recognized as one of Canada’s top personal injury firms, we’ve developed the expertise needed to be effective in this complex area of law.
HSH lawyers are pleased to arrange to meet you in your own home in the Halifax area or at a nearby consultation office. Distance or your ability to travel should never be a barrier to accessing high quality legal representation.
As we listen to your story with great empathy, it will become clear that we always see you as more than a file. In this difficult period in your life you deserve to be treated with compassion, respect and dignity and to receive attentive care from your legal advocate. We will explain your options, provide our advice, and facilitate the tests, evaluations and therapies necessary for both your case and your rehabilitation and recovery.
If you or a loved one has sustained a preventable birth injury, trust an HSH birth injury lawyer to be on your side and by your side in Halifax. Together, we’ll seek the financial resources you need and deserve for the harm you’ve experienced and we’ll work to give you hope there are better days ahead.
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Among the best in Canada
Since 2011, our peers have consistently voted for us as one of Canada’s top personal injury firms in Canadian Lawyer magazine’s annual rankings of the top personal injury boutiques in Canada. With decades of experience helping accident victims and their families, our firm understands the laws that affect your right to compensation because we’ve helped shape those laws in favour of accident victims.
Among the best in Canada
Since 2011 Canadian Lawyer Magazine rated us one of the top personal injury law firms in Canada. Why? With close to 20 years helping accident victims and their families, our firm understands the laws that affect your rights to compensation because we’ve helped shape those laws in favour of accident victims.