A Bayonne, New Jersey family has reached a settlement with Hoboken University Medical Center for $7.1 million. The settlement may finally conclude the two-year infant brain injury malpractice case the family filed after the birth of their son. The settlement may offer some degree of closure for the family, but the brain damage their son experienced during birth cannot be reversed.
Infant Brain Injury Malpractice Case Information
David Tejada was just one day old when his family rushed him to St. Joseph’s medical center. He was diagnosed with a hypoxic ischemic brain injury. This injury occurs when there is a lack of oxygen to the brain before, during or shortly after birth.
In a lawsuit filed in 2017, it is alleged that a delay in delivery is what caused the brain injuries. The lawsuit claims,
“a deviation from accepted standards of obstetrical care during the labor and delivery of the minor plaintiff, David E. Tejada.”
The lawsuit named Hoboken University Medical Center and several doctors and nurses as defendants. In the settlement, only the hospital and one doctor is named. That doctor is identified as the chairman of the hospital’s obstetrics and gynecology department. The settlement agreement shows no admission of wrongdoing.
The settlement agreement is structured in a way that will support David’s health in the long-term. Around $650,000 will go into a trust for David’s medical care. Three million will go toward a structured settlement annuity. The annuity will pay $27,000 into a fund every month for 10 years.
Infant Brain Injury Impacts Entire Family
Now three years old, David cannot walk or feed himself. He suffers from a variety of medical conditions, including hydrocephalus and seizures. He takes eight medications and requires constant medical supervision.
The lawsuit states that the Tejada family has suffered enormously, and will continue to do so as their child will require lifelong care. The lawsuit states that the family continues to suffer from
“Severe mental, emotional and psychological damages, injuries, pain, suffering and anguish.”
An infant brain injury certainly changes the life of the child, but also his or her family. The Tejada’s will no doubt rest easier knowing that David’s medical needs will be met for the duration of his life. While it is unfortunate that this, or any other, family suffers from birth injuries, victories like this one help prevent additional harm to the infant and his or her family.
What is a Hypoxic Ischemic Brain Injury?
A hypoxic ischemic brain injury occurs when there is a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain. The term “hypoxic” refers to a lack of oxygen to the brain and vital organs causing brain damage. The term “ischemic” refers to restricted blood flow to the brain and vital organs. Therefore, a hypoxic ischemic brain injury is one that involves a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain, which results in brain damage.
There is a condition called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which refers to the brain damage that happens because of oxygen deprivation at birth. Infants with HIE may experience severe physical and neurological disabilities, including cerebral palsy, seizures and behavioral abnormalities.
Most Common Causes of Infant Brain Damage
While we do not know the details of David Tejada’s birth, we do know that a lack of oxygen at birth is one of the most common birth injuries resulting in infant brain injury. According to the American Journal of Neuroradiology, between two and 10 out of every 1,000 infants are born without adequate oxygen. Many of these cases are preventable with adequate monitoring, diagnosis and treatment.
The most common reasons why infants suffer oxygen deprivation and brain injuries include:
Birth Canal Problems
If an infant becomes stuck in the birth canal, there is a high risk of oxygen deprivation. Doctors must work quickly to move the infant through the birth canal or opt for a Cesarean section (c-section) to reduce the risk of further injury.
Sometimes infants develop mucous in their lungs. Mucous constricts the airways and prevents the infant from getting adequate oxygen. Doctors must act quickly to clear the infant’s airways and also restore proper lung function.
Maternal infections are a common cause of brain damage in infants. This is especially if true if doctors do not diagnose and treat the infection quickly. Intrauterine infections that may cause infant brain injury include herpes, rubella and cytomegalovirus.
Brain damage and oxygen deprivation can result from physical trauma before, during or after delivery. Examples include excessive pulling, improper use of a vacuum, a forceps delivery injury or dropping the infant.
Placental abruption occurs when the placenta and uterus separate too soon. This results in a lack of oxygen and blood to the infant.
Umbilical Cord Problems
If there is a kink, twist or prolapse of the umbilical cord it can cut off oxygen and blood supply to the infant. If the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck, it can also cause asphyxia. Doctors must be careful to monitor the status of the umbilical cord throughout labor and delivery.
Jaundice is a common condition in newborns, but without a timely diagnosis and treatment, it can progress. Severe or untreated jaundice can cause kernicterus, which is brain damage due to excessive levels of bilirubin. Excessive bilirubin backs up in the bloodstream and can also leak into brain tissue causing damage.
As you can see, there are many reasons why infants develop brain damage. Some are the result of unforeseeable complications, but others are easily preventable with appropriate care.
Is Your Child Suffering from a Birth Injury?
If your child is suffering from an infant brain injury and you believe that a doctor’s malpractice is the cause, contact Birth Injury Guide. Let our birth injury lawyer review your situation, answer your questions and help you determine the best course of action. If your situation constitutes malpractice, we can certainly help you build a birth injury claim and pursue justice and compensation.