Ron Miller is an attorney who focuses on serious injury and wrongful death cases involving motor vehicle collisions, medical malpractice, and products and premises liability. If you are looking for a Maryland personal injury attorney for your case, call him today at 800-553-8082.

caps on malpractice lawyers' feesIn recent years, we have been picking up more malpractice cases — primarily birth injury cases — in jurisdictions outside of Maryland and D.C.  We have handled claims close to home like Pennsylvania and West Virginia and we have also handled (and settled) cases as far away as Oregon.

To do this, we needed to get up to speed on the basics of malpractice calls in that jurisdiction.  Not so much to handle the case — we have local counsel for that — but to screen the case to evaluate whether it is a viable claim to bring.   It is important, of course, to know if the state has caps on malpractice cases and we have done that research.

But, honestly, you also need to know whether there are significant caps on attorneys’ fees because it has a real impact.  Taking a birth injury case in New York, for example, is a very tough play economically because you are only getting 10% of everything past $1 million.

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Medically induced cooling of the brain can help treat damage. This relatively new procedure — the FDA approved it a little over 10 years ago —  provides the opportunity to treat babies who are suffering from hypoxic brain damage as a result of perinatal asphyxia.

We don’t totally understand exactly why brain cooling works although there are many theories that make perfect sense that are floating around out there.  But, ultimately, who cares why it works.  It appears to work on not only the brain but other vital organs that have been harmed from oxygen deprivation.

At this point, I don’t know why any hospital with a NICU would not have the ability to use cooling to protect an infant from brain damage.

Saying you suffered a head injury in an accident is sort of like saying your nephew is an actor. He might be Will Smith, but he also might be an understudy in a local dinner theater production.

Head injuries to automobile occupants have been shown to be a major cause of death and permanent brain injury within the U.S. and internationally. Head injuries vary from headaches that resolve quickly to brain damage that destroys a life. The data on head injury verdicts does not leave a good impression of the settlement value of head injury cases:

  • Head Lacerations and Contusions: $10,016

Years ago, we were involved in gadolinium MRI lawsuits involving nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF), which is a fibrosing disorder of the skin and joints that occurs with victims with advanced renal insufficiency.

Th cases settled for millions of dollars because NSF is just an absolutely awful disease.  Now there are a new set of gadolinium MRI lawsuits alleging that the gadolinium is toxic and harming patients.

What is Gadolinium?

Women experiencing typical pregnancies are not offered the option of inducing labor at 39 weeks.  That might change.

A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”) suggests that electively inducing labor 1 week before the due date decreases the risk of complications and lead to a safer delivery.  New mothers whose labor was induced in week 39 (instead of waiting for labor to begin naturally) were less likely to require a C-section and had lower rates of preeclampsia and other complications.  The research also established inducing at 39 weeks did not increase the chances of stillbirth or other severe complications compared to mothers who were not induced.  The detailed results of this pivotal NIH study were just published in the New England Journal of Medicine: Labor Induction versus Expectant Management in Low-Risk Nulliparous Women.

malpractice-7It was previously believed that early induction of labor significantly increases the likelihood of an emergency cesarean delivery in response to complications.  This made many doctors reluctant to induce any time before 40 weeks, but no comprehensive study had ever been done before.  The Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch at NIH funded the study in an effort to fill this data gap.

A neonatal stroke (also called a perinatal stroke) is defined as an interruption of blood flow to an infant’s brain that occurs between 20 weeks gestation and first 28 days after the child is born. Neonatal strokes can be ischemic or hemorrhagic.  Ischemic neonatal strokes are caused by some form of blockage in the blood vessels.  Hemorrhagic strokes occur when blood vessels rupture and bleed.

What causes a newborn to have a stroke?

Neonatal strokes are the result of some event within the body that suddenly disrupts the normal flow of blood to the baby’s brain.  In adults, the underlying causes leading to a stroke are usually high blood pressure, diabetes or some other condition.

In June 2018, a study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal which shows there has been an alarming increase in the rate of birth injuries resulting from forceps-assisted deliveries.  This does not surprise me because our obstetrician experts have been telling us for years that the new generation of obstetricians does not have the skill to use forceps.  If too much pressure or force is used, forceps can cause injury to both mother and baby.

What Are Forceps?

Obstetrical forceps are a surgical tool used by OB/GYNs to assist in difficult vaginal deliveries.  The forceps look like large plyers with metal spoons at the ends.  The spoons are used to basically grip the baby’s head so that the doctor can then manually maneuver the baby through the birth canal.  Sometimes, birth injury lawyers unfairly vilify forceps. But forceps are a very effective weapon with the right obstetrician.  The problem is they require a high level of skill and experience by the doctor.

babya-300x169Birth injuries can result in lifelong consequences for both the parents and the child. Serious birth injuries can result in permanent disabilities and a lifetime of expenses.  Birth injuries are often the direct result of medical negligence or preventable medical error by the doctors, nurses, and staff during the labor and delivery process.  When birth injuries are attributable to medical negligence, the civil legal system gives injured parties the ability to obtain financial compensation from doctors, hospitals, and their insurance carries.

If your child has suffered a birth injury, your question is where do I go from here?  What can I do to bring about the best possible outcome for my child?   If your child had not suffered a birth injury, money is important yet still pretty far down on the list of what you need to make a good life for your child.  For a child with significant birth injuries, money jumps higher on the “things you need” chart.  So if someone wonders why you are worried about filing a lawsuit instead of focusing on your child, I think bringing a meritorious birth injury claim is exactly what you do when you are putting your child’s future first.

Below are some common questions parents ask in birth injury cases.

Caput succedaneum and cephalohematoma are similar – but distinct – birth injuries which cause a baby’s head to swell. They are typically not serious and will heal themselves over a relatively short period of time.

My Child Has Caput Succedaneum and I’m Worried

For most concern parents, you should know that caput succedaneum and cephalohematoma are not a big deal if they are not coupled with a brain bleed or other cerebral insult. So many people reading this are parents who have been told their child has caput succedaneum.  When it is your newborn child — and I have four myself — it is easy to panic.  But the good news is that in the vast majority of cases, caput succedaneum ends up being insignificant.

Hypoxic ischemia (also known as ischemic hypoxia, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, and HIE) is brain damage which occurs when an infant has a lack of oxygenated blood flow to the brain resulting in pathological cellular damage that causes brain damage.

All of our brains, but particularly a baby’s brain,  is extremely dependent on blood and oxygen to survive.  When the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen for a sufficient amount of time, it becomes permanently damaged from hypoxia and ischemia. Once permanently damaged by hypoxia and ischemia, the brain permanently fails to provide normal neurological function.  This can cause both mental and physical injuries.  Fatalities are not uncommon.  HIE caused by asphyxia is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States.

Unfortunately, cases of hypoxic ischemia can often happen as a consequence of medical negligence. In particular, failing to accurately diagnose the condition (often through neglecting the fetal heart rate monitor), or inadequate treatment and care during the delivery process (often through failing to perform a c-section when needed) are the two biggest factors that cause hypoxia because of medical neglect.

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