Articles Posted in Birth Injury

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Earlier this month, our Chicago personal injury lawyers read an article in the Sun Journal that reported on the conclusion of an birth injury lawsuit that was filed by a family following problems during the birth of their daughter. The lawsuit alleged that a midwife was negligent in her duties during the delivery, which lead to the young child suffering a series of permanent injuries.

The girl is now 10 years old and suffers from a rare genetic disorder known as Kabuki Syndrome. That already damaging medical issue was complicated by the mistakes made during her delivery. Lawyers for the girl’s family explain that the child suffered various problems because of a lack of oxygen to her brain during childbirth. They suggest that the midwife should have known that problems were developing that needed injury when the fetal monitor indicated that there was a problem. As a result of the error, the victim has severe mental retardation, is confined to a wheelchair, and requires a feeding tube to survive. The young girl is also blind and cannot verbally communicate.

Several years ago the midwife was ensnared in a similar lawsuit. That case involved the birth of a 5-year old who was born with cerebral palsy. As in the most recent case, the child suffered injury because of a lack of blood and oxygen to his brain. In each of these cases, the midwife should have recognized the signs of fetal distress and recommended an emergency Cesarean section. The family sued followed the mistake and the jury awarded them $6.71 million.
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An Illinois hospital and physician have agreed to a $6.5 million present cash value settlement for a young girl who suffered a brain injury during birth. The brain injury resulted in debilitating cerebral palsy with mild to moderate mental retardation and occurred when the Illinois hospital physicians failed to timely perform a Cesarean section. The Illinois birth injury settlement was reached during mediation and was approved in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Cook County injury attorneys John J. Perconti and Patricia L. Gifford represented the injured child and her family.

More than ten years ago on September 26, 2000, Denice Cisneros of Chicago went to an Illinois hospital in labor after having a normal and uncomplicated pregnancy with her first child. During her pregnancy, Denice heeded her doctor’s advice and expected a normal delivery. During a prolonged second stage of labor, the family practitioner and labor and delivery nurse failed to determine the presentation of the baby’s head and failed to diagnose cephalic pelvic disproportion, a condition occurring when the baby’s head is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis. The Illinois medical malpractice also involved the physician and nurse misreading fetal monitoring strips and giving Denice a medication used to induce labor though her contractions were adequate. Yet, despite a four hour second stage of labor, the baby did not descend. When an obstetrician consulted, he witnessed late and variable decelerations on the fetal monitoring strips, but did not order an emergency C-section.
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In general, there are four types of nerve injuries common in birth injuries.

1. A stretch injury that “shocks” but does not tear the nerve. Normally, these heal on their own.

2. A stretch injury that damages some of the nerve fibers may result in scar tissue. This is called “neuroma.” Some, but not total, recovery usually occurs.

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Brachial plexus stretch injuries in newborns usually occurs during a difficult delivery. This birth injury can occur with a large baby, a breech presentation, or a prolonged labor. It may also occur when the person assisting the delivery delivers the baby quickly and uses force to pull the baby from the birth canal. This happened in a medical malpractice lawsuit filed by Levin & Perconti regarding the negligent delivery of the baby.

Often in this birth injury, the upper nerves are affected. The infant may not be able to move the arm, but may be able to move the fingers. If both the upper and lower nerves are stretched, the condition is usually more severe than Erb’s palsy. This is called “global” brachial plexus birth palsy.

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Erb’s palsy is a birth injury that one or two of every 1,000 have. Most infants with brachial plexus birth palsy will recover movement and feeling in the affected arm. However, parents have to be watchful and participate in the treatment process to ensure maximum functional recovery.

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Levin and Perconti has been honored in Chicago Magazine’s 2008 Illinois Super Lawyers Edition. Both John Perconti and Steve Levin were named Super Lawyers as Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Lawyers. The pair have been honored for the last four years as two of Chicago’s best Injury Lawyers.

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What is the best way to measure a doctor’s competency? A new program in New York will allow major insurance companies to rate doctors in the same way restaurants and movies are rated. Naturally, the health insurance industry is concerned about costs and will likely base its ratings primarily on the cost of care. The New York program does require the health insurance providers also utilize national standards and guidelines to rate doctors. The natural focus on cost, which is the reality in any business, begs the question whether the size and number of medical malpractice settlements and verdicts will factor into the ratings system.

For a recent editorial on the plan click here.

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Since it is assumed lawyers are unethical, ethics is an integral part of the law school curriculum. By the time law students graduate from law school they are keenly aware that not reporting unethical behavior is itself a breach of the ethical duty all lawyers have. I do not know whether that is true for doctors as well. A new study published on December 4, 2007, in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests there is a disconnect between doctors’ own ethics and their practices. The disconnect may be the result of fear of malpractice lawsuits, but that fear is not the concern of injured patients, injured patients’ families, or malpractice lawyers. The disconnect should be the concern of medical malpractice insurance carriers who should be seeking to uncover doctors who violate standards of care. The medical malpractice insurers’ best hope is doctors reporting doctors.

For an article discussing the study click here.