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NY Mother Files $22 Million Birth Injury Malpractice Lawsuit

Birth Injury

A New York mother has filed a birth injury malpractice lawsuit on behalf of her two-year-old daughter against the United States of America. She claims employees at the non-profit neighborhood health center where she gave birth to the girl were “negligent and careless.” Two physicians are specifically named in the lawsuit.

The child was born on October 7, 2012. The plaintiff is suing for $2 million in damages for herself and $20 million for her daughter.

Birth injury malpractice lawsuit

The mother accuses the health center of hiring incompetent physicians, failing to have physicians properly trained in obstetrical matters and failing to have sufficient competent supervision in obstetrical cases.

The plaintiff claims one physician “was negligent in failing to properly supervise the physician and the delivery; in failing to step in when she saw too much pressure being applied on improper parts of the infant; in permitting and allowing an incompetent doctor to perform the delivery.”

The mother accuses the other physician of being negligent, careless and unskilled. She alleges the doctor made a number of mistakes before, during and after delivery that caused her daughter to suffer serious and permanent injuries, including shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus damage.

Shoulder dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is a condition occurring during vaginal birth, when the baby’s head gets stuck inside the mother’s vagina. This presents risks for both the mother and child. This condition is difficult for healthcare providers to predict or prevent. It is often only discovered after labor has begun. However, there are risk factors for the condition, including an abnormally large baby, a condition called macrosomia. In this case, the physician may recommend a cesarean section.

Other risk factors may include a mother with diabetes, being pregnant with more than one child, late delivery, having a baby with shoulder dystocia in the past, induced labor, getting an epidural and an operative vaginal birth. This condition may also occur when no risk factors are present.

In most cases, the mother and child have no permanent damage, but the baby could sustain an injury to the nerves of the shoulder, arms and hand that could cause shaking or paralysis. It can also cause a lack of oxygen to the brain, which can lead to brain damage or death. The mother may experience complications including heavy bleeding after birth and the tearing of the uterus, vagina, cervix or rectum.

Brachial plexus injury

The brachial plexus is the group of nerves that sends signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm and hand. This network can become injured when the nerves are compressed, stretched or ripped apart from the spinal cord. Babies may sustain this type of injury during a difficult birth, such as a breech presentation or a prolonged labor. Additionally, if the child’s shoulders become wedged in the birth canal, they are at an increased risk of brachial plexus palsy.

In most cases, the infant’s upper nerves are damaged, which is a condition called Erb’s palsy. However, total brachial plexus birth palsy can happen, where both the upper and lower nerves sustain damages during the birth.

  1. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Zenobia Ferguson & Althea Ferguson vs. the United States of America

  2. March of Dimes, Pregnancy Complications

  3. Mayo Clinic, Brachial Plexus Injury