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Umbilical Cord Complications

Doctor Performs UltrasoundPregnancy is a time of great anticipation and limitless hope for the future, but when umbilical cord problems emerge during labor and delivery, joyful expectations can quickly pale in the face of tragedy. Sadly, birth complications of this type happen with alarming frequency, and when they are improperly addressed by attending medical professionals, severe injuries and even death can occur.

At Ellis Law, our team of dedicated birth injury attorneys is committed to defending the rights of the most vulnerable among us and stands ready to bring over two decades of experience to bear in the quest for justice in Los Angeles and throughout California.

Dangers posed by umbilical cord problems

Linking unborn child to the placenta, an umbilical cord works to transport blood to the fetus, provides oxygen and essential nutrients, and removes waste. Beginning with the fifth week of pregnancy, the cord grows to an ultimate length of between 22 to 24 inches. Though the cord’s development typically proceeds without incident, in some cases, abnormalities can arise which can produce dangerous conditions during labor and delivery. If medical professionals fail to identify and swiftly address the situation, devastating birth injuries may result.

Common umbilical cord abnormalities include:

  • Nuchal cord – the cord becomes wrapped around the baby’s neck, foot or hand
  • Umbilical cord prolapse – an urgent complication demanding immediate diagnosis and Caesarian section to stave off brain damage, oxygen loss and possible stillbirth
  • Vasa previa – blood vessels of the baby cross the cervix of the mother, boosting the risk of rupture, oxygen deprivation and stillbirth
  • Umbilical cord cysts which can cause abdominal, kidney and chromosomal harm
  • Umbilical cord knots which, if tight, can cause serious harm in the absence of an immediate Caesarian section
  • Single umbilical artery – a condition that may adversely affect brain, heart and other key functions of newborns

Each of the above complications requires early, comprehensive diagnosis, monitoring and treatment by skilled obstetrical professionals and labor and delivery staff. When problems of this type are not identified and managed in a timely manner, the impact on the child and their family can be truly devastating.

The Los Angeles birth injury lawyers at Ellis Law have comprehensive knowledge of the accepted standard of care and appropriate protocols for medical professionals attending the delivery process. That is why we are uniquely qualified to assess the facts of your case and determine whether the injuries sustained by your child were likely cause by a breach of those standards.

Medical errors that can compound umbilical cord problems

It is important to remember that umbilical cord problems themselves are not birth injuries, but if labor and delivery professionals fail to identify and properly treat them in a rapid manner, serious injuries can follow. There is no substitute for constant monitoring in order to catch fetal distress signals early and diagnose umbilical cord issues in sufficient time to address them. When umbilical cord prolapse, vasa previa, nuchal cords or tightly knotted cords become evident, failure on the part of medical professionals to order a Caesarian section or perform a series of key maneuvers can have profound and permanent consequences.

There are some umbilical cord issues that are detectable well in advance of labor and delivery, and when such diagnoses are made in the early stages of a pregnancy through standard ultrasounds, the chances of stillbirth are lessened significantly simply by ordering a Caesarian delivery at approximately 35 weeks. Doctors have a clear obligation to heed known risk factors that may give rise to serious umbilical cord complications.

Signals that call for increased attention and monitoring include things such as:

  • Preterm labor
  • Baby in breech position
  • Expected birth of multiples
  • Low amniotic fluid
  • Mother’s membranes have already been ruptured to speed up the labor process
  • Inordinately long umbilical cord

If one or more of these risk factors are present, and additional care and monitoring is not undertaken to prevent dangerous complications from developing, a claim of negligence may be justified.

Ellis Law has direct access to a network of medical experts, nursing consultants and case investigators who have the educational background and professional knowledge to assess whether or not labor and delivery staffers lived up to the accepted standard of care in your case. Our entire team pledges to do everything in our power to hold negligent parties responsible and to fight for the compensation your child deserve.

Liability issues in umbilical cord complication cases

When umbilical cord problems are not promptly identified, diagnosed and treated, a host of injuries can result. The harm suffered in such cases can range from mild impairment to disability or even death. In many instances, these injuries are preventable. The Los Angeles birth injury lawyers at Ellis Law can investigate the circumstances of your child’s injury and determine which party or parties are legally liable.

Defendants in birth injury cases may include:

  • Obstetrician present during labor and delivery
  • Prenatal physicians
  • Labor and delivery nurses
  • Anesthesiologists who administered drugs during labor
  • Medical facilities at which the events unfolded
  • Manufacturers of malfunctioning monitoring devices

Sorting out precisely what went wrong during a delivery complicated by an umbilical cord problem is not something the parents of an injured child should attempt to do themselves. Obtaining the help of a personal injury lawyer with an established track record of success provides the best opportunity to secure maximum financial recovery.

Damages in a birth injury malpractice case may include:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Cost of ongoing physical, speech and other therapies
  • Expense of specialized educational services
  • Payment for emotional distress

California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act imposes a limit of $250,000 on non-economic damages in medical error cases, but damages for economic damages such as present and future medical expenses are unlimited, as are potential punitive damages.

Settlements and verdicts in birth injury cases can be substantial, as is evidenced by a recent $10.68 million settlement in a California case involving insufficient fetal monitoring resulting in cerebral palsy, and a $4.25 million settlement reached in the birth injury case of a 4-year-old from Long Beach.

If your child has been hurt because a healthcare professional failed to reasonable respond to umbilical cord problems during birth, the attorneys at Ellis Law can comprehensively document your losses and fight for every dollar of compensation to which you are entitled.

Our California birth injury lawyers are ready to help

For over 20 years, the attorneys at Ellis Law have advocated on behalf of those injured by the negligence of others, including newborns who have suffered birth injuries. Our mission is to offer aggrieved clients a level of personalized, compassionate service that can make a real difference during one of the most difficult points in their lives.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury due to negligent management of the labor and delivery process, we invite you to contact us for a no-cost initial consultation. California statutes place a time limit on filing birth injury lawsuits, so the sooner you schedule a no-obligation case evaluation, the better your chances of securing the just outcome your child deserves. Most malpractice actions must be filed within one year of the injury, or in the case of children under six, within three years of the injury or before the child’s eighth birthday, whichever period is greater.

Your window of opportunity to secure financial compensation will not remain open indefinitely, and we stand ready to help you begin the journey to recovery today. Call Ellis Law today: 1-800-INJURED.

  1. March of Dimes, Pregnancy complications: Umbilical cord abnormalities, www.marchofdimes.com/pregnancy/umbilical-cord-abnormalities/aspx
  2. Medscape, Umbilical Cord Complications, http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/262470-overview
  3. NYU Langone Medical Center, Umbilical Cord Prolapse, http://pediatrics.med.nyu.edu/conditions-we-treat/conditions/umbilical-cord-prolapse
  4. WebMD.com, Understanding Labor and Delivery Complications - The Basics, http://www.webmd.com/baby/understanding-labor-delivery-complications-basics?page=2