Parents come to us and our firm every month, asking us to look at their child’s labor and delivery, their child’s development, and answer one question, and that is, “Do we have a birth injury case?” Put another way, “Do we have a link between my child’s disabilities, their missing of milestones, their diagnosis of CP, perhaps made by their pediatrician. Is there a link between that, what we know to exist in our child’s delays, and what the doctors, and the nursing team, or what a midwife did during labor and delivery, or prior to labor and delivery?” So that’s the question on every parent’s mind when I sit down with them for the very first time. And so I’d like to give you an overview of the analysis that we go through to answer that very critically important question.
So first, we start with you. We start with the family. We want to know the story of the pregnancy. We want to know the story prenatally. We want to know the story of what Mom was hearing from her doctors during her prenatal period during the time she was pregnant. Were there risk factors? Were there things that Mom was made aware of? Was Mom on bed rest? Were there complications? Next, we move to the labor and delivery period, and was this a scheduled labor and delivery? Was a date given for either a vaginal delivery where pregnancy would be induced, or was there a date given for a c section? Did this delivery start out as a vaginal delivery, and then shift to a c section once there were complications during pregnancy? And we need to know that story. What went on in the labor and delivery room. Now, often there are extended family in the labor and delivery room, and we want to hear from each one of them, and so what we try to do in our very first meeting, is to sit down with all of the family members.
We hope at that point to receive medical records before we ever sit down with the family, so we have a brief overview of what we’re looking at, but we really sit down with the family. The second step in the process is we move on to the medical records. Now, we will need a complete copy of Mom’s medical records from the time she realized she was pregnant and was seen by her OB, all the way through delivery. So we’ll need a complete copy of Mom’s records, and whether the family gets those records, or we get them, we’ll need them before we can analyze your case.
Next, we need a copy of the child’s medical records, again, from the moment of delivery all the way through the present day. We need to hear what’s happening at labor and delivery. Does the child go to NICU? What are the APGAR scores at the moment of delivery? What’s the tone like? How is respiration? Did the child have to be aspirated, resuscitated? Those are the kinds of issues that we’re looking for. And then, how is the child doing now. I mean, developmentally, where are we? And what does the radiology say? We will look at the radiology films, the MRIs, the Cts, probably in conjunction with a pediatric neuro radiologist expert to give us a complete picture, so that we can not only see the brain injury that has led to CP, but get an idea about the timing of the injury. Is this the kind of injury in the way we’re looking at it on the film, that’s more like to have occurred during prenatal, or labor and delivery? Or is this the kind of injury that appears to have occurred at some other point?
A critical piece of our analysis is the fetal heart monitor strip. As you may be aware, as Mom is delivering, she has two straps on her. One strap tracks the baby’s heart rate, and the other strap tracks Mom’s contractions. And so, by following moment to moment, minute to minute, during labor and delivery, the baby’s response to Mom’s contractions, we can see whether the baby’s tolerating the uterine environment. We can look warning signs when Mom’s contractions result in loss of heart rate to the baby, or an extended recovery period time. When we see those warning signs, we know that doctors in the labor and delivery team have to be on alert, and have to be ready to institute a c-section if what they’re seeing is harmful to the baby. Now, often we see that labor and delivery teams and doctors miss warning signs, and that emergency c sections are not instituted quickly enough in order to save the baby.
So we’ll be looking very carefully at the fetal heart monitor strip. We’ll be tracking the fetal heart monitor strip moment to moment, and minute to minute with the records, and comparing them, so that we know exactly what the records are telling us, and what the fetal heart monitor strips are telling us. Next, we’ll consult with experts. We’re not doctors. We know a lot of medicine in this area, but we’re not doctors, and so we will consult with an OB, pediatricians, often experts in the field of radiology in the analysis portion of the case. That’s really an overview of what we’ll be doing when we analyze the case, and analyze your situation. We have to master, and get an absolute grasp and understanding of each one of those pieces: Mom’s prenatal period, Mom’s labor and delivery period, what’s gone on with delivery of your child, and how has your child progressed, and what does the imaging and the testing tell us about your child’s brain injury, and cerebral palsy?
Once we’ve done that, because of our experience, because of our success in representing families like you in these kinds of cases, we can sit down with you, and tell you, “Here’s what we see, and here’s where we think we can go.” And if we see a successful case and claim on behalf of you and your child, then we’ll tell you that. If we don’t see a successful claim, because of the problems that we see, and the defenses that we know that the defense will raise, and maybe issues within the medical records that will make it easy for them to prevail, we’ll let you know that as well. Now, that won’t be the end of the road, regardless of which one of those responses you get from us. If we don’t take on the case, and we feel like there are issues, we will refer you to fine, fine lawyers for second and third opinions. If we do take on the case, that’ll just be the beginning of our relationship. From that point forward, we will work with you and keep you informed, step by step as we move forward to success for you and your family.