Orange County Birth Injury Lawyer

Bringing a child into the world should be an exciting and joyous event, but sometimes, devastating complications during childbirth can result in birth injuries.  These injuries can have life-altering consequences for both the child and their family. 

Sadly, the United States is now one of the most dangerous places in the developed world to give birth both to a mother and her baby.  The United States ranks first amongst all developed nations in serious birth injuries and/or death to a mother or her baby.  What’s worse, many of these injuries are avoidable and preventable and occur only due to medical negligence. 

In such cases, families may pursue personal injury lawsuits to seek compensation and justice. Oftentimes, such compensation is required to provide an adequate amount of care and treatment needed for a child.

Types of Birth Injury Cases We Handle

Birth injuries are physical or neurological injuries that occur to a newborn before, during, or after the birthing process. These injuries can happen due to various factors, such as medical negligence, complications during labor, or issues with the baby’s positioning. Below are some of the cases our team of experienced birth injury lawyers handle:

  1. Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE): Brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation during birth;
  2. Cerebral Palsy: A group of disorders affecting muscle control and coordination due to brain damage;
  3. Erb’s Palsy and Brachial Plexus Injuries: Nerve injury, often affecting the baby’s arm during childbirth;
  4. Fetal Death: Babies sometimes pass away due to fetal distress in the womb that goes undetected and untreated by providers;
  5. Maternal Injuries: Sometimes mothers due to hemorrhaging (severe bleeding after birth), infection, or due to preeclampsia.

Many of these injuries and/or deaths are completely avoidable. In many cases involving birth injuries, signs and symptoms of fetal distress are ignored and unaddressed by medical providers.

The Importance of Hiring a Birth Injury Lawyer

Cases involving birth injury are extremely complex. They require hiring many experts, such as expert OBGYNs, perinatologists (MFM), neonatologists, neuroradiologists, physiatrists (physical rehabilitation and medicine), neurologists, life care planners, and economists. To truly obtain justice, attorneys handling such cases much leave no stone unturned and show a willingness to spend the time and money on experts and other resources.

The statute of limitations is also very complex in California. Section 340.5 of the California Code of Civil Procedure pertains to the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits in California. The statute has specific provisions related to minors. The general rule is that a child typically has until his or her eight birthday or three years, whichever provides the longer period. In wrongful death cases involving the death of a child or a fetus, the parents often only have one year to file a case under section 340.5. However, there are various exceptions and different rules when it comes to statute of limitations, and on some occasions the statute can be as short as six months. Consultation with an attorney early is critical.

Our birth injury lawyers based out of Orange County have years of proven birth injury settlements that have delivered substantial results for families, including:

  • $5,700,000 in a birth injury case against a hospital and OBGYN.  The hospital nurses violated their own hospital policy in administering Pitocin to promote labor despite clear contraindications. When the child was born, he suffered from severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (brain damage as a result of lack of oxygen.)
  • $4,900,000 recovery on behalf of a child against a hospital in a medical malpractice action.  While her mother was in labor, there were concerning category II strips showing a sinusoidal “sharktooth” like pattern on the Fetal Heart Monitor.  While subtle, this was concerning for a fetal-maternal haemorrhage, which required an earlier delivery to avoid injury to the child.  When finally born, the child suffered from a  hypoxic brain injury.  
  • $3,000,000 settlement in a tough liability cases involving twins where one of the babies was brain damaged at a hospital after a NICU nurse failed to recognize and treat the symptoms of a bacterial infection.
If your child was affected by a birth injury and you suspect it was a result of negligence or carelessness, the birth injury attorneys at Ikuta Hemesath, LLP are here to help. From making phone calls on your behalf, to collecting medical records, to negotiations with insurance reps, we will handle all aspects of your case. In the meantime, you and your family deserve to focus on healing and moving forward with your lives.

Failure to Diagnose and Treat Fetal Distress

Fetal distress refers to signs before and during childbirth indicating that the fetus is not well. Fetal distress can be due to multiple causes, and it may lead to complications if not promptly managed. Some conditions and factors that can cause fetal distress include:

1. Umbilical Cord Complications:

  • Cord Prolapse: This occurs when the umbilical cord drops through the cervix before the baby does, potentially leading to cord compression.
  • Cord Compression: Any situation where the umbilical cord becomes compressed can reduce blood flow to the fetus.
  • Nuchal Cord: This is when the umbilical cord wraps around the fetus’s neck. It’s common and often harmless, but in some cases, it can cause problems

2. Placental Issues:

  • Placental Abruption: The placenta prematurely separates from the uterine wall.
  • Placental Insufficiency: The placenta doesn’t deliver enough oxygen and nutrients to the fetus.
  • Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR): This condition means the fetus is smaller than expected for its gestational age, often due to problems with the placenta or other complications.

3. Drugs: Pitocin, which is a brand name for oxytocin, is a synthetic hormone used to induce labor or strengthen labor contractions during childbirth. While Pitocin can be a valuable tool in obstetric care, it has potential risks and side effects. It can cause hyperstimulation on the uterus, causing stress to a fetus.

4. Oligohydramnios: Reduced amniotic fluid around the fetus, which can limit the fetus’s movement and cause compression of the umbilical cord

5. Prolonged Labor: Especially if the labor is very long or contractions are too strong and close together, it can stress the fetus.

6. Maternal Hypertension: High blood pressure in the mother can reduce the blood flow to the placenta and fetus.

7. Maternal Infections: Some infections can cross the placenta and affect the fetus, leading to distress.

8. Maternal Medical Conditions: Conditions like diabetes, thyroid disorders, and others can impact fetal well-being if not well-managed during pregnancy.

9. Multiple Pregnancy: Twins, triplets, or higher-order multiples can sometimes experience complications that lead to fetal distress.

10. Fetal Anemia: A low red blood cell count in the fetus can result from various conditions, including Rh incompatibility.

11. Shoulder Dystocia: This is a complication during delivery where the baby’s head passes through the birth canal, but the shoulders become stuck.

12. Trauma: Any trauma to the mother’s abdomen or pelvis, like a car accident or fall, can potentially lead to fetal distress.

13. Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM): If the amniotic sac breaks before labor begins, it can sometimes lead to infections or other complications.

It’s essential to recognize and manage the signs of fetal distress promptly to prevent adverse outcomes. Electronic fetal monitoring and regular prenatal check-ups play a significant role in detecting and addressing potential issues before they become severe. If fetal distress is suspected, various interventions, from changing the mother’s position to emergency cesarean delivery, could be the difference between a happy baby and a devastating birth injury.

Importance of Fetal Monitoring Strips During Labor and Delivery

The only way to measure fetal health and to identify signs of fetal distress is through Fetal Monitoring Strips. Fetal monitoring strips, also known as cardiotocography (CTG) or electronic fetal monitoring (EFM), record the baby’s heart rate and the mother’s uterine contractions during labor. The purpose of monitoring these parameters is to assess the baby’s well-being and to identify any potential distress or complications that might arise during labor.

By analyzing these strips, clinicians can gain insights into the well-being of the fetus. Several patterns can be observed in the fetal heart rate, which can indicate normal or concerning situations.

1. Baseline Fetal Heart Rate (FHR):

  • Normal: 110 to 160 beats per minute (bpm).
  • Tachycardia: Baseline FHR above 160 bpm. Causes can include maternal fever, fetal anemia, fetal arrhythmias, maternal hyperthyroidism, or drugs.
  • Bradycardia: Baseline FHR below 110 bpm lasting for more than 10 minutes. Causes can be related to fetal cardiac problems, maternal hypotension, umbilical cord compression, or prolonged head compression.


2. Variability:

  • Normal Variability: Minor fluctuations in the FHR around the baseline, indicating a well-oxygenated central nervous system.d
  • Decreased or Minimal Variability: Reduced fluctuations. Can be caused by fetal sleep cycles, medications, or an indication of fetal compromise if prolonged.
  • Absent Variability: No detectable variability, which can be concerning if associated with other abnormal FHR patterns.
  • Marked Variability: Excessive fluctuations in FHR, which can sometimes indicate cord compression or other problems.


3. Decelerations:

  • Early Decelerations: These are dips in FHR that start and end roughly in sync with contractions. They are typically caused by head compression and are usually not concerning.
  • Late Decelerations: These start after the contraction begins and return to baseline after the contraction ends. They suggest possible placental insufficiency and can be a sign of fetal compromise.
  • Variable Decelerations: Abrupt drops in FHR, which can vary in shape and timing relative to contractions. Often related to umbilical cord compression.
  • Prolonged Deceleration: A drop in FHR below the baseline lasting between 2 and 10 minutes. Can be due to various causes and might require intervention.


4. Contractions:

  • Monitoring the frequency, duration, and intensity of contractions can help assess the progress of labor and the potential for uterine hyperstimulation, which can compromise fetal oxygenation.
  • Recognizing and understanding these patterns is vital for clinicians managing labor and delivery. When concerning patterns appear, such as repetitive late decelerations or bradycardia, interventions might be required. Interventions can range from changing the maternal position, administering oxygen, treating a maternal fever, or even progressing to an emergency cesarean delivery if the fetus is in distress.


Careful attention to these strips by obstetricians and nurses is often the difference between life and death. Negligence related to fetal monitoring strips could occur if medical professionals:

  • Fail to Properly Monitor: This involves not using the monitoring equipment when indicated, or not monitoring for appropriate durations or intervals.
  • Misinterpret the Strips: If a healthcare provider cannot accurately read and interpret the patterns and changes in heart rate and contractions, they might miss signs of fetal distress or other complications. For instance, decelerations in the fetal heart rate can be indicative of potential problems, and if they’re overlooked or misinterpreted, the baby could be at risk.
  • Fail to Act on Abnormal Findings: Once a potential problem has been identified on a fetal monitoring strip, timely interventions can be crucial. Failure to act or delayed response to abnormalities can result in adverse outcomes for the baby, such as brain damage from lack of oxygen or other complications.
  • Technical Errors: These involve issues related to the equipment itself, such as malfunctioning monitors or improperly placed sensors.
    Inadequate Training: Healthcare providers need proper training to use and interpret fetal monitoring equipment. If they haven’t received this training or if their training is outdated, it can lead to mistakes.

Contact an Orange County Birth Injury Attorney

Birth injuries are devastating events that can have a lasting impact on a child’s life and their family’s well-being. When negligence or medical errors are involved, pursuing a personal injury lawsuit can help families obtain compensation and hold responsible parties accountable. However, these cases are complex and require legal expertise, as well as a support system to navigate the emotional and practical challenges that arise when dealing with birth injuries and personal injury lawsuits. Contact Ikuta Hemesath to schedule a consultation today.

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