The delivery room can be a chaotic environment. Both the mother and infant need medical attention, and often, decisions must be made quickly. With the high stakes and fast pace, it is only natural for mistakes to happen. Errors that result in injuries are those that are most serious and could result in a lawsuit.

Improper Fetal Monitoring

Medical professionals monitor the fetal heart rate to determine the health of the baby. If the heart rate is too high or too low, it can be a sign of distress. Fetal distress can be a sign that the baby isn’t getting enough oxygen. This can and should be considered a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

If medical professionals do not monitor the fetal heart rate or fail to use the monitors correctly, make a mistake in interpreting the readouts, or fail to act when necessary, the baby could be put at risk of injury or death.

Failure to Act

Medical professionals who fail to act when an issue arises could contribute to an injury simply by their inaction. Not addressing a potential problem or issue in a timely manner can be just as catastrophic as a misdiagnosis or error in treatment.

Improper Medication

Improperly administering medication can happen in a variety of ways. Prescribing the wrong medication can cause further issues or leave the primary symptoms untreated and allow them to progress until the mistake is remedied. Prescribing the wrong prescription can either leave the symptoms untreated by too small of a dose or cause additional side effects and medical issues by too high of a dose.

Administration of prescription drugs can cause issues when patients take the wrong medication or the wrong dose. This can happen in the delivery room or by a pharmacist after delivery.

Improper Use of Forceps or Vacuum Extractors

Forceps and vacuum extractors are tools used to help extract the baby through the birth canal when the delivery is difficult or stalled. Only medical professionals who are trained to do so should use these tools.

Failure to use these tools correctly can result in trauma, bleeding of the brain, hemorrhaging, and future disabilities. The use of the devices has strict standards. The FDA advises against the use of vacuum extractors because of the increased risk of complications after their use.

Delayed Performance of C-Section

There are circumstances when delivery should take place right away due to the distress of the mother or the baby. There are standards of care laid out for when these circumstances occur, and doctors are expected to follow these standards. For example, doctors should not allow labor to go on for longer than is reasonable. Fetal distress, uterine rupture, cord prolapse, placenta previa, and placental abruption are all considered circumstances that warrant an immediate C-section. Additionally, emergency C-sections should not take longer than 30 minutes to perform.

Birth Trauma

Birth trauma is a term used to describe injuries to the baby from excessive force during delivery. In addition to excessive force, it can also include the overuse of drugs, mismanaged abnormal fetal position, and other similar complications. Most of the time, birth trauma can be avoided when medical professionals follow the best care practices for the circumstances.

If you believe your infant has suffered birth trauma unnecessarily, a birth injury lawyer can help you investigate your legal options.

Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is when a baby’s head is delivered vaginally, but its shoulders become stuck in the mother’s body. To fully deliver the baby, the doctor must perform additional obstetric maneuvers.

Shoulder dystocia has a high perinatal morbidity and mortality rate. It contributes to birth injury, including brachial plexus and Erb’s palsy.

Brain Bleeds

Also referred to as intracranial hemorrhage, brain bleeds can range in severity. They can be caused by oxygen deprivation or excessive force to the baby’s head during delivery. The misuse of forceps and vacuum extractors are a common cause of brain bleeds. The longer a brain bleed is left undiagnosed, the more chance the baby has of suffering permanent damage.


Although not typically thought of as an occurrence in babies, strokes are possible and can happen during or around the time of the baby’s birth. A stroke is what happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. In infants, these strokes are referred to as “perinatal strokes.” Perinatal strokes that happen before birth are called “fetal strokes,” and those that occur after are called “neonatal strokes.” Newborns are almost as likely to have a stroke as the elderly.


The immune system of newborns isn’t capable of fighting bacteria, viruses, or other dangerous pathogens. Infections can be caused by something being passed to the baby from the mother, or by something they were exposed to after being born. If an infant develops an infection, they may need to be admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Lack of identifying an infection could result in brain infections and injuries.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disorder caused by damage or issues in part of the brain that controls movement. It results in unusual or involuntary movements. It can also lead to joint and bone deformities. Additional complications can include epilepsy, cognitive difficulties, and problems with vision or hearing.

It is widely believed that many cerebral palsy diagnoses are caused by birth injuries and errors of medical professionals. It affects one out of every 323 children.

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen in blood flow around the time of birth. Also known as birth asphyxia and neonatal encephalopathy, there are many potential causes. These can include medical mistakes, high-risk pregnancy difficulties, and labor or delivery issues.

The administration of therapeutic hypothermia after the lack of oxygen has occurred can minimize the long-term effects that oxygen deprivation can cause.


Seizures can occur in infants who have experienced an injury during birth, most often including damage to their brain. Some infants have one seizure only, while others develop a seizure disorder that could continue into adulthood.

Delays in Development and Disabilities in Learning

When children do not meet developmental milestones related to physical function, communication, behavior, or intellectual ability, there could be a cause for concern. As the child grows older, developmental and learning issues become more apparent. Some of these delays may resolve on their own. However, if they persist, they could be severe enough to qualify as a disability.

Disabilities can be managed, and individuals can learn how to work with their disabilities through an intervention plan. This could include special education services, therapies, medical treatments, assistive technology, etc.

Author's Bio: 

Marina Pal is a renowned author and social media enthusiast.