Law Office of Robert A. Miller
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Oregon Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Why is the maternal death rate so high?

If you are an Oregon mom-to-be, you probably are thrilled with the thought of giving birth to a healthy baby. You therefore take all the advice you can get from your doctor and other sources about all the things you should do during your pregnancy to assure that your baby indeed will be born healthy. But are you as concerned about your own health as much as you are about that of the child you are carrying?

Earlier this year, Oregon Public Broadcasting did a very disquieting report about the U.S. maternal death rate. The report, a joint effort by National Public Radio and ProPublica, found that 700-900 U.S. women die each year from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes. An additional 65,000 nearly die. This is possibly the worst record anywhere in the developed world.

The truth about maternal birth injuries

Oregon law requires any plaintiff to satisfy certain requirements during the course of a medical malpractice case, and those involving birth injuries are no exception. In particular, one must prove that an injury has occurred. However, silence and corresponding ignorance regarding preventable birth injury provides an environment in which mothers abandon their potentially successful malpractice complaints before taking the first steps towards retrieval of damages caused.

An editorial investigation by Mother Jones illustrates just how frequent injuries to the mother and their long-term consequences truly are. It also explains a culture of silence peculiar to many gynecological practices. While laws might require doctors to explain certain risks, specifically when surgery is involved, this is rarely the case when it comes to discussing the possibility of long-term side effects of nonsurgical birth.

Why home births are dangerous

Expectant mothers in Oregon who have decided to have a home birth may want to rethink that decision. As reported in The New York Times, 2012 Oregon statistics showed that babies delivered in planned home births had a death rate nearly seven times that of babies born in hospitals.

In addition, national statistics show that the perinatal death rate for home birth babies is at least triple the rate for hospital births. A perinatal death is when a baby dies during the last weeks of the mother’s pregnancy or during the first week after delivery.

Birth trauma risks of vacuum extraction

At the Law Office of Robert A. Miller in Oregon, we know that the birth of a child is one of the happiest experiences of your life. Sometimes, however, a baby encounters difficulties when moving through the birth canal and the doctor recommends using a vacuum extractor or forceps to aid the delivery. While these devices are safe when used correctly, if they are used incorrectly or with excessive force, you and your baby can sustain injuries.

As the Mayo Clinic explains, a vacuum extraction may be indicated if you cannot push your baby out of the birth canal, if his or her heartbeat is problematic, or if you yourself have certain health conditions. This procedure, however, is not your only option in these situations; a C-section is also a viable option.

What are common types of birth injuries?

Expecting mothers in Oregon have a tiresome and rewarding ride ahead of them. However, childbirth can still potentially be dangerous even in the modern age of medicine. We at the Law Office of Robert A. Miller are here to help you in the unthinkable instance that something goes wrong, leaving you dealing with birth injuries.

During labor, there are many snap decisions made with the ultimate intention of helping you through the process. Unfortunately, these decisions sometimes cause more harm than good. For example, epidural injections can easily injure the baby if they're not placed correctly. If a child is stuck in the birth canal, forceps or a vacuum extractor may be used to remove them safely. However, if used incorrectly, these tools can result in numerous injuries to the baby's head, eyes, or brain.

What are the types and effects of birth injuries?

Oregon's expecting mothers just like you rely heavily on medical professionals to keep both you and your child safe. Unfortunately, cases of medical malpractice do occur, and that's when the Law Office of Robert A. Miller can step in to help guide you through this difficult period.

There are numerous different traumas that a child can suffer from in a case of medical malpractice. Many of these involve nerve damage or a lack of essential nutrients or oxygen. Some common disorders resulting from these traumas include:

  • Erb's palsy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Brachial plexus
  • Shoulder dystocia

Does your baby have Erb's Palsy?

Bringing a child into the world can be one of the most incredible experiences of your life, but some mistakes made during the delivery can lead to devastating consequences. Many babies in Oregon and across the country suffer from Erb's Palsy, a condition that can occur when a doctor makes crucial errors at the time of birth. 

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, if a doctor attempts to pull the baby from the birth canal and stretches the neck to the side, severe damage can occur. You will often become aware of the problem if you notice that your child has limited mobility in one arm. This can range from total paralysis to a localized weakness.

Aging doctor population a growing concern

Oregon patients need to be able to trust their doctors, but with the age of many M.D.s on the rise, some believe the only way to prevent harm to patients is through testing.

As the Chicago Tribune reports, nearly a quarter of doctors in the United States are 65 or older. While some hospitals have their own systems in place for measuring the ability of doctors of a certain age, there is not a standard in place by which all doctors must abide. In fact, a report from the American Medical Association in 2015 stated that doctors should lead the charge in creating the procedure to ensure that those treating patients remain competent and able to do their jobs effectively. This report notes that if doctors do not come up with a standard then they may have to abide by rules imposed by the outside at a later date. And indeed, other professions do have mandated retirement ages, such as airline pilots and some in the military. 

Work with experienced legal counsel to seek compensation for midwife-related birth injuries

The way a couple chooses to do childbirth is a very personal decision. For some, the standard, hospital-based approach is preferred, while for others, having their child at home allows them to better tailor the process to their preferences. For couples who prefer to do childbirth at home, the services of professional midwives are valuable.

Even though the overall number of home births is still small in Oregon and across the country, the number of home births has significantly increased in recent years. Most home births are supervised by midwives, some of whom are licensed, and some of whom are not licensed. 

Detecting congenital heart defects in children

Congenital heart defects are a common birth defect for babies born in Oregon and across the United States. Typically, severe defects are diagnosed during pregnancy or shortly after a baby is born. However, less severe defects may not be diagnosed until a child is older.

Children with congenital heart defects are usually treated by pediatric cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. To diagnose a heart defect, these specialists listen to a child's heart with a stethoscope and look for physical signs of the condition, which may include a bluish tint to the skin, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, delayed growth or heart failure.

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