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BILA – General Information
The Birth Injury Lawyers Alliance of Canada is a national network of personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers who specialize in supporting families affected by birth injuries. Our members are knowledgeable and caring advocates with access to experts in all aspects of birth injury to advocate for children and families.
Ontario Birth Injury Lawyers
Richard Halpern has extensive technical knowledge related to medical malpractices cases. An important focus of his work is in seeking redress for children injured at or around the time of birth. He has obtained awards in excess of $10 million (although past results are not necessarily indicative of future outcomes).
Richard received the Distinguished Service Award for his dedication to the profession by the Ontario Bar Association in 2015. Richard is also a member of the Holland Group, an organization that supports equitable access to justice in medical malpractice cases. Both writer and lecturer, he regularly presents to professional groups, including physicians, nurses and lawyers.
Information about Birth Injuries
Birth Injuries include a wide range of incidents that may occur before labour, during labour and delivery, or after the birth. Frequently, these injuries affect the brain of the newborn. Some birth injuries include:
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE). This injury can result when the brain is deprived of oxygen or blood flow during childbirth.
Behavioural Problems. Hypoxic ischemic events, as well as trauma due to medical interventions involving tools (forceps or vacuum), can sometimes result in neurological damage and concurrent behavioural problems.
Brachial Plexus Injury. This injury affects the nerves in an infant’s neck, and may occur if the baby’s shoulder blocks him or her from passing through the birth canal. Called shoulder dystocia, the injury occurs if nerves are stretched or detached as the obstetrician attempts to dislodge the infant’s shoulder. While the injury can be temporary, occasionally the effects of the injury, such as impaired functioning of the arm, are permanent.
Cerebral Palsy. This neurologic injury may occur if oxygenation to the infant is impaired during labour and delivery. It may be caused by a number of complications including umbilical cord compression, excessive uterine activity, impaired blood flow, and rupture of the uterus, as example.
Failure to Diagnose or Treat Preeclampsia. Around eight to 10 percent of pregnant women are diagnosed with preeclampsia, which is characterized by high blood pressure. If incorrectly diagnosed and treated, preeclampsia can be life threatening for both mother and child.
Fetal and Neonatal Stroke. Previously believed to be unpreventable, fetal and neonatal stroke is sometimes due to preventable hypoxic ischemic episodes during labour.
Hypoglycemia. Babies at risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) require vigilant monitoring before and during labour, and after delivery. Failure to provide adequate monitoring can result in a hypoglycemic brain injury.
Jaundice, Kernicterus and Hyperbilirubinemia. Jaundice, caused when a newborn’s liver is unable to process bilirubin (a blood byproduct) is a very common condition, and relatively simple to treat. However, if untreated, or improperly treated, more serious conditions may emerge and result in serious brain injuries to infants. The brain injury associated with high bilirubin is called Kernicterus.
Meconium and Meconium Aspiration Syndrome. These injuries occur when a fetus has a bowel movement in utero or during delivery, and the amniotic fluid introduces the waste into the baby’s lungs or blood. It is possible for infants to aspirate or breath in meconium, which can cause breathing difficulties for the newborn.
Negligent Resuscitation of a Newborn. Negligent resuscitation can result in brain injury. Guidelines exist for appropriate training of birth attendants including techniques for ventilating or intubating.
Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL). This neurological injury is most common in babies born prematurely and results from a lack of oxygen to the brain.
Seizures. Seizures can sometimes signal that a brain injury has occurred during labour and delivery. They can also be caused by infections or bleeding in the brain, or even stroke.
Vacuum. The most common injuries from forceps and vacuums are hematoma and hemorrhage injuries.
Syndrome. This injury may occur when the twins share a placenta (monochorionic twins), and the blood flow between fetuses is unequal.
Whole Body Cooling. This is a process that can mitigate the damage of a perinatal brain injury. It is imperative that healthcare providers are trained to recognize when this approach is recommended.
Ontario Health Care and Resources
Women’s College Hospital/76 Grenville Street/Toronto, ON, M5S 1B2/Phone: 416-323-6400
Women’s Health Care Centre – Victoria Hospital/800 Commissioners Road/EastLondon, ON N6A 5W9/Phone: 519-685-8500
Immigrant Women’s Health Centre/489 College Street, Suite 200/Phone: 416 323 9986/Email: email@example.com
BORN Ontario (Better Outcomes Registry and Network)/Centre for Practice-Changing Research Building (CPCR)/501 Smyth Road/Ottawa, ON K1H 8L6/Phone: 613-737-2404 or toll-free 1-855-881-BORN (2676)/E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Birth Injury Statistics for Ontario and Canada
Induced labour can be associated with birth trauma.
Approximately 24 percent of women in Ontario were induced between 2011 and 2012.
Premature delivery is associated with cerebral palsy and other significant health concerns.
Complications During Birth
On average, fewer than 50 percent of all birthing mothers had a complication-free labour and delivery from 2001-2005.
Compared with cesarean deliveries, midpelvic forceps and midpelvic vacuum deliveries lead to higher rates of maternal and infant trauma, according to a new study published in Canadian Medical Association Journal.
- A Canadian Medical Association Journal study on the number of adverse events among hospital patients in Canada revealed that 30 percent to 50 percent of complications are preventable.