Birth Injuries: Part of Birth or Medical Malpractice?

A family from Macomb Township, Michigan, was recently awarded $41.6 million for a birth injury case. Kimberly Vanslembrouck’s daughter, Markell, was born with Cerebral Palsy and Hypoxic-ischemic Encephalopathy after what is described as a traumatic delivery.  Markell fractured a clavicle in the birth canal and experienced severe brain trauma.

Markell’s lawyer argued that there were several misjudgments by medical staff including: birth weight, failure to perform a C-section, and negligence during delivery, factors which led to the loss of oxygen and brain damage.

The lawyer also argued that the hospital was negligent in failing to perform a C-section and forcing the 10-pound, 12-ounce baby through the birth canal. During delivery, Markell suffered a fractured clavicle, hemorrhaging and severe brain trauma.

The family’s gynecologist, Andrew Halperin, testified at trial that Markell’s brain damage resulted from a pre-existing genetic disorder, Pontocerebellar Hypoplasia. But the jurors found that both the hospital and delivery physician were negligent and awarded nearly $143 million in damages.

According to a National Institutes of Health study, it takes about $1,500 a week to cover all expenses associated with Cerebral Palsy. In the Vanslembrouck case, a portion of the $144 million award will help pay for her 24-hour care for about 77 years.

Birth Injuries Explained

In legal terms, a birth injury is  an injury sustained during the process of child birth. This injury is usually caused by tremendous pressure placed on the baby as it passes through the birth canal. Some factors that may cause this pressure include:

  • Prolonged labor, a “breech” (legs first) delivery
  • Premature birth
  • Doctor procedures (i.e., the use of forceps)
  • Small size or irregular shape of the mother’s pelvis

Some common birth injuries include:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Erb’s Palsy

Birth Injuries: Risk Factors

Risk factors for birth injuries include:

  • Large babies
  • Aggressive use of forceps or vacuum
  • Vaginal breech delivery
  • Abnormal or excessive traction during delivery
  • Lack of proper prenatal testing and care
  • Lack of monitoring during birth
  • Delaying a C-section or ordering an unnecessary C-section

Legal Help for Birth Injuries

If your child was injured during delivery, and you believe it was a result of medical malpractice, you may be eligible for compensation to help pay for:

  • Current and future medical costs for the treatment and care of the birth injury victim
  • Rehabilitative therapy
  • Necessary medications

Call 1-800-THE-LAW2 to speak with a birth injury lawyer who can help you sort out the facts of your case by reviewing medical records and working with medical experts to determine fault.