Caput Succedaneum Medical Malpractice Claims

caput succedaneum malpractice

When delivery of an infant becomes somehow complicated, like when the baby’s head gets stuck momentarily, the sensitive bones and tendons of a child can easily become injured. Although swelling from delivery complications usually goes down in a few days, some more severe cases may result in permanent birth injuries. This is especially true when the brain is involved.

A common type of brain swelling known as caput succedaneum is one swelling that may lead to permanent injuries. If you are a parent whose infant has suffered permanent injuries from swelling due to caput succedaneum, then you should read this article.

This article will address:

What Is Caput Succedaneum and How Does This Type of Injury Usually Occur?

When a baby becomes stuck during delivery, physicians sometimes use a device known as a vacuum to help dislodge the infant. Sometimes the force of this vacuum impacts the infant’s soft skull, causing severe swelling that may result in permanent brain injuries if the swelling does not subside in a few days. 

Caput succedaneum is severe swelling of an infant’s skull caused by some type of impact during childbirth. If the swelling does not subside on its own, it could lead to permanent brain damage. Brain damage in an infant is a tragic injury that forever changes a child’s future. 

But who is to blame? Sometimes it is the physician who may have used negligent delivery methods that caused the baby to be stuck, or the doctor may have used too much force in dislodging the infant with a vacuum or other device, both of which are capable of causing caput succedaneum injuries.

Examples of Serious Injuries and Deaths from Caput Succedaneum
  • An infant who gets stuck during delivery is dislodged with overly excessive force, resulting in severe brain swelling that causes mental retardation in the infant.
  • An infant’s head gets stuck during delivery and becomes swollen so severely that the baby’s skull becomes permanently impacted and deformed.
  • An infant who is negligently delivered suffers severe swelling in his head that causes nerve damage in his brain and sadly leads to his paralysis.
How Might a Caput Succedaneum Occur in a Real Life Setting?medical malpractice baby

Mary is on her way to a Baltimore hospital to have her second baby. Her first baby, who was born four years prior, was born with shoulder dystocia after he got stuck in the birth canal. When Mary presented to the hospital to have her second baby, she told the nurse about the complications from her prior childbirth. Once the doctor came in, Mary began to experience pain, and her contractions were getting closer and closer. The physicians decided it was time to induce delivery.

The physicians, however, never looked at Mary’s chart to see that her first child was stuck in the birth canal during delivery. If they had looked, they would have realized that Mary may have a narrow birth canal, and a C-section might be most appropriate for delivery of her second child. The doctors instead performed the delivery in the customary fashion. During delivery, Mary’s baby became stuck in her birth canal. The doctors used forceps to remove the infant, but those forceps caused the infant’s head to swell severely. The doctors diagnosed the injury as caput succedaneum.

Mary’s loss - and her baby's loss - is unimaginable. Her baby will now have brain damage for the rest of his life. Mary wants to sue and she wants to know how much her case is worth. She likely can sue, because the physicians here were negligent in failing to consider her medical history in performing delivery of her second baby. That negligence caused the baby’s injuries. These cases may be worth a lot of money because the injuries are of such a severe and permanent nature.

Examples of Verdicts and Settlements in Caput Succedaneum Cases
  • Wisconsin: $23,200,000 Verdict. The plaintiff mom alleged that her baby suffered fetal brain injuries caused by caput succedaneum when the doctor performing her delivery failed to timely order a C-section. The plaintiff mom had been having difficulty inducing labor, but the physicians did not notice until it was too late. The physicians instead used a vacuum to remove the baby who then became stuck in the birth canal. When the baby was forcefully dislodged, it had suffered a large caput succedaneum injury as well as shoulder dystocia.
  • New York: $5,000,000 Settlement. Plaintiff mom, 36, was admitted to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, by her obstetrician, Dr. Mary Wilson, for a vaginal birth induction. She was more than a week overdue at the time. Before induction, the fetal heart monitor revealed abnormal activity in the mother’s uterus. The mom alleged that Dr. Wilson never took into account the abnormal uterine activity when selecting induction methods. The baby was born with caput succedaneum and permanent brain damage.
  • malpractice injuries
  • Pennsylvania: $2,000,000 Verdict. The plaintiff mom, diagnosed as having a high-risk pregnancy, went to Rolling Hill Hospital in Philadelphia after going into labor. During labor, her physicians administered a drug called Pitocin to induce contractions. The fetus reportedly became wedged in her pelvis and developed caput succedaneum. An emergency C-section was performed, but the child suffered caput succedaneum and was sadly diagnosed with cerebral palsy and decreased cognitive functioning
The Attorneys at Miller & Zois Are Experienced in Handling Birth Injuries

Birth injuries are complex cases. They are painful and emotional for everyone, including the attorneys. But they are also potentially worth significant compensation for children and their families that desperately need money to care for their child.

If you are a parent whose infant has been injured during delivery, please contact Miller & Zois for a free claim evaluation. We are experienced and dedicated advocates who will fight to bring you justice. You can contact us at 800-553-8082 or get a free case evaluation online.

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