As a parent, discovering that your newborn child has suffered a birth injury in the hands of a negligent doctor can be devastating. Granted, the birthing process is by far the most complicated and intense occurrence in a human’s life. However, doctors must be capable and fully prepared to handle any situation that occurs during or near the time of birth.
During birth, there are situations where doctors use tools such as forceps to guide the child through the birth canal. Doctors are required to be extremely careful when using these different tools and methods to help a mother bring life into this world. If a child doesn’t receive prompt and proper treatment and care, a birth injury like cephalohematoma may occur.
What is cephalohematoma?
Cephalohematoma is a head injury that occurs when the blood vessels surrounding the head and under the scalp are damaged and ruptured due to acute pressure or trauma to the baby’s head. The damaged blood vessels cause blood to pool under the baby’s scalp forming a small lump on their skull. In many cases, cephalohematoma is not visible immediately.
What causes cephalohematoma?
Cephalohematoma can occur due to the force of labour contractions during birth. These contractions cause the baby’s head to be pushed against the pelvis while trying to get through the birth canal. This pressure may result in rupturing the blood vessels around the baby’s head.
Cephalohematoma can also be caused by birth assistance tools such as obstetrical forceps and vacuum pump extractors. These devices are designed to facilitate vaginal deliveries in situations when the mother’s uterine contractions alone cannot push the baby through the canal. Since both devices are designed to grip the baby’s head, if used incorrectly or without care, they can damage the baby’s head and blood vessels resulting in cephalohematoma.
Common complications from cephalohematoma
In most cases, this condition is completely harmless, and the child heals on its own and will be perfectly fine with time. However, cephalohematoma can also result in serious medical complications.
- Jaundice: This occurs when blood from the ruptured blood vessels gets absorbed, causing bilirubin levels in the blood to increase.
- Infection: The cephalohematoma site can be exposed to primary or secondary infection, especially when there are lesions on the site. Infections often develop in the first or second week after birth.
- Anaemia: Lack of blood being circulated throughout the baby’s body can cause anaemia. This is a lifelong condition that can be difficult to manage.
- Calcification: Calcium builds up in the blood vessels and disrupts the body’s normal processes.
- Loss of consciousness
How should doctors respond to cephalohematoma?
A CT scan or MRI should help diagnose cephalohematoma after birth. If the condition is found to be very severe, the doctor should respond accordingly. It’s common for doctors to dismiss certain cephalohematoma cases assuming that they’ll resolve on their own. Some wait until the child shows more severe symptoms in order to offer the necessary treatment. There are cases where surgery is recommended, especially if the cephalohematoma is severe. However, surgical procedures can also put the baby at greater risk of further infections.
What to do if your child suffers cephalohematoma
You may have a medical malpractice claim if:
- A doctor did not follow proper medical procedures during birth and this resulted in cephalohematoma
- A doctor caused further injuries by not responding to the condition accordingly
- A doctor misdiagnosed your child’s cephalohematoma
By failing to diagnose or treat a serious condition like cephalohematoma, doctors expose the child to lifelong medical issues that could change their life forever. It is important to seek justice and ensure that doctors who make such mistakes are held liable for their actions.
At Wagners, we’ve spent many decades fighting for parents whose babies have suffered serious birth injuries at the hands of negligent doctors. As personal injury lawyers, we come with extensive experience in advocating for injured children and their parents. We work closely with the best medical experts and investigators to help pursue your claim and demand fair and full compensation from the negligent party. Get in touch with us for legal advice and to understand your rights and options.