John and Sonya Butler were expecting in April of 2005. Sonya had a normal pregnancy; no issues were detected and no problems were anticipated. However, an unfortunate combination of events led to her daughter, Alex, suffering umbilical cord injuries during birth that left her a quadriplegic.
The case that the family filed against the hospital and the obstetricians who help deliver Alex brought some shocking details to light. Sonya Butler’s pre-operative assessment was substandard, and failed to reveal the necessity of C-section. The hospital failed to ensure that a competent obstetrician was present during birth, and a hearing determined that had Alex been born 10-12 minutes earlier, she likely would have suffered no injuries.
The failure of these medical professionals to determine that a C-section was necessary left Alex confined to a wheelchair and requiring a lifetime of medical care. Umbilical cord injuries are serious, and can have devastating consequences.
What is an umbilical cord injury?
The umbilical cord is a lifeline between mother and child. It provides blood, oxygen and vital nutrients to an unborn fetus. However, the umbilical cord can become wrapped around a child as it moves in the womb, necessitating surgical intervention to prevent any damage. Problems with the umbilical cord can lead to serious birth injuries, which can affect your child for the rest of his or her life. While problems with the umbilical cord itself are not necessarily a form of medical malpractice, failure to properly monitor the mother and child, and failure to diagnose potential problems as a result of poor monitoring, are indeed forms of medical negligence.
The three most common types of umbilical cord problems include:
- Umbilical cord prolapse, when the umbilical cord precedes the infant through the cervix during delivery. This puts the baby at greater risk of becoming entangled in the cord. Prolapse can be the result of premature or breech births or excessive amounts of amniotic fluid.
- Nuchal cord, which occurs when the umbilical cord is wrapped around the infant’s neck. This can lead to oxygen deprivation, known as hypoxia, and the resultant brain damage, known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE,) that is associated with the compression of the cord during the birthing process often has serious, long lasting effects. Children who suffer HIE can be born with cerebral palsy, or may die as a result. This type of injury was the one that affected the Butler family.
- Umbilical cord knots, which can result from the natural motions of an infant in amniotic fluid. While knots usually remain loose, there is a higher risk of constriction during delivery. This can restrict the amount of blood and oxygen available to an infant during birth, leading to hypoxia or to HIE.
The suffering of the Butler family was entirely preventable. The hospital and doctors had only to exercise a reasonable standard of care to prevent a child from permanent disability. The birth injury attorneys at Crandall & Pera Law specialize in medical malpractice and birth injuries. Our experienced legal team can help you through a traumatic experience and get you the compensation you deserve. If your child has suffered a birth injury or you have been the victim of medical malpractice, contact us for a free consultation at one of our offices in Ohio or Kentucky.