So, your little bundle of joy has arrived, and it is possibly the happiest moment in your life. But, soon, you might find out that something didn’t go quite as planned – and your baby has sustained a birth injury.
The panic might start as you realize your baby suffered an injury during birth – and you might feel lost and defeated. But before the anxiety takes over completely, take a deep breath. Now is the time to advocate for your child and ensure they get the best care possible.
Here are seven things you must do if your newborn experiences a birth injury.
- Educate Yourself on Birth Injuries
First, learn about the type of birth injury your child suffered. The more you understand, the better equipped you’ll be to get them the care and support they need.
Check reputable websites for details on symptoms, treatments, and prognosis. Talk to your doctor and ask lots of questions. Connect with support groups to learn from other parents’ experiences.
Know that some birth injuries, like broken collar bones, heal on their own in weeks. Others, such as cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy, may require long-term treatment and therapy. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to repair damage.
But don’t lose hope. Advancements in medical care have led to improved outcomes and better quality of life for children with birth injuries. With the right diagnosis and care plan in place early on, many go on to live happy, active lives.
- Consult an Attorney
Consulting an attorney who specializes in birth injury cases and deals with birth injury settlements is crucial. A knowledgeable lawyer can review the details of your baby’s birth and determine if the doctor, hospital, or other medical staff were negligent in any way. They can evaluate if policies and procedures were followed correctly and if the level of care provided met the standard of care. If negligence is found, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation, loss of wages, and other costs.
Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible after a birth injury is essential. Medical records and other evidence must be obtained quickly before they become difficult to gather. And there are statutes of limitations on medical malpractice and personal injury cases – meaning you only have a limited window of time to take legal action.
A reputable birth injury lawyer can advise you on the merits of your specific case and options to potentially hold the responsible parties accountable while also helping ensure your baby’s lifelong needs are met.
- Document Everything Related to the Injury
Get the details of your baby’s condition and the events surrounding the injury in writing. Note the time of birth, Apgar scores, and any concerns the doctors expressed. Write down the names of doctors, nurses, and any witnesses. Ask for copies of medical records and test results. These details may be necessary for insurance claims or legal matters.
Keep a written log of doctors’ visits, medications given, and any procedures done. Note how your baby is improving or complications that come up. A written record of events will help you advocate for your child during treatment and hold any negligent parties accountable.
- Get a Thorough Medical Evaluation for Your Child
Getting a thorough medical evaluation for your child is crucial. See a doctor as soon as possible and be prepared to provide details about the birth and events leading up to the injury.
The doctors and therapists involved in your child’s care should have experience treating the specific type of injury your baby suffered. Some key specialists to consider include:
- A pediatric neurologist: For brain injuries like cerebral palsy or brachial plexus injuries impacting the nerves. A neurologist can adequately diagnose the injury and recommend appropriate therapies.
- An orthopedic surgeon: For broken bones or damage to the musculoskeletal system. An orthopedist may perform corrective surgeries or recommend treatments like physical therapy.
- A physical, occupational, or speech therapist: To help improve mobility, coordination, daily living skills, or speech difficulties.
Your child’s doctor will likely order a series of tests to determine the extent and severity of any damage. Common evaluations include:
- MRI or CT scans to get images of your baby’s brain and spine
- Hearing and vision tests to check for sensory issues
- Blood tests to check for infections or other abnormalities
- Neurological exams to assess muscle tone, reflexes, and motor skills
- Prioritize Your Child’s Ongoing Care and Therapies
The effects of a birth injury on a child can be life-long, so ongoing treatment and therapy are critical. Make your baby’s care a top priority going forward.
Coordinate with your baby’s pediatrician and specialists to determine a comprehensive treatment plan. This may include physical, occupational, and speech therapy, as well as counseling or medication for specific conditions. Ask about early intervention programs in your area that provide treatment and support services for children with special needs.
- Be a True Advocate for Your Child
As a parent, you are your child’s best advocate. Research your child’s condition and available treatments so you can make informed decisions about their care. Ask doctors and therapists lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from another specialist.
Stay on top of appointments, screenings, and therapy sessions. Make sure all members of your child’s care team have the most up-to-date information. Learn about educational and legal rights. A birth injury may qualify your child for early intervention services, special education, Social Security benefits, and possibly a medical malpractice claim. You’ll need to understand eligibility requirements and application processes.
Even though childbirth injuries can be upsetting, instead of fretting and doing nothing, you should be proactive and take these necessary actions for your child’s care, recovery, and long-term well-being. Only you can be your child’s best advocate, so speak up, seek professional advice, and locate the finest care team for your child. Your child will live a happier and more prosperous life with proper care and treatment. So stay strong and never stop fighting for your little one.