Expecting parents dread the idea of having a mishap take place during the birthing process and it is absolutely heart wrenching when mishaps do happen, especially when they are preventable. Dr. Brad Bradshaw knows all too well about birth injuries that occur and has kindly provided further insight to the many questions in relation to such injuries.
Dr. Bradshaw is a licensed physician, surgeon and lawyer who has highly specialized training in preventable injuries. He currently has practices in several locations throughout the U.S. and is expanding his presence to Vancouver. Through his legal practices, Dr. Bradshaw helps ensure families have the finances to pay for the lifetime care of a child injured during birth.
We had a chance to chat with Dr. Bradshaw ahead of his expansion to Vancouver.
How long have you been practicing law and handling cases?
I have been practicing medicine since 1985 and practicing law in the States since 1992. I am currently in the final stages of obtaining my permit to practice foreign jurisdiction law in B.C., and will concentrate on being articled (licensed) after that. I have helped families who have children with birth injuries since I began practicing law.
What drew you to Birth Injury cases in your legal practice?
I initially worked with a lawyer whose practice included a significant amount of medical malpractice and the occasional birth injury case. To better familiarize myself with the practice of obstetrics, I took a continuing education seminar in Boston that was sponsored and presented by Harvard Medical School. I then became an acquaintance with the chief of Obstetrics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital – one of the crown jewels of the Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals. Over the years, I worked on more cases with attorneys and medical experts, some of them from Seattle and California, leading me to spend more time on the west coast.
What is the most common birth injury that families experience today? Why?
Unfortunately, one of the most common injuries is Cerebral Palsy (CP), a life altering condition that frequently requires ongoing medical care.
Advances in medical technology have made it so we can save young premature babies but often they have conditions that are a side effect of prematurity. New medical technology, such as the fetal heart monitor, allows doctors to intervene when an unborn child shows problems during delivery but failure to move quickly can result in having a child who suffers the consequences of that delay in treatment.
What are the main causes of most Birth Injuries?
There are many, but two main causes are low oxygen and perfusion to the brain during delivery (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)) and prematurity, especially children born extremely premature.
What would be the median compensation a family or mother might be awarded in damages?
Compensation varies depending on the errors of the health care providers and the significance of the injuries to the child. A child who is able to walk and attend school will need less care and therefore less compensation compared to a child with severe CP requiring 24 hour a day care.
Do families face walls sorting out the aftermaths of a Birth Injury?
Yes. When errors of health care providers are the cause, the health care providers may cover-up the events or be unwilling to provide details to the family. This leaves the family with a lack of understanding or in some cases even misinformation on the cause of the injury.
How do many Birth Injuries go unnoticed in Vancouver?
At this time there are no statistics on this, so it is difficult if not impossible to track. Also, because of the unwillingness (in some instances) of people to question their doctors, and health care providers to admit they have made mistakes, the cause of these birth injuries may go unnoticed.
Is there anything families can do to protect themselves from sustaining a Birth Injury?
Ask questions during the pregnancy and especially the delivery process. When the baby is on the fetal heart monitor, ask the health care provider to explain what it shows and ask how your baby is doing. Let your doctor know that if problems arise, you are willing to undergo a C-section. Families should be aware that if it is the first birth – the baby going through an untested pelvis and birth canal – where problems are more likely to arise.
What can parents do after a child is born with a birth injury?
Unfortunately, there are not any cures for CP. The best thing a parent can do is provide love and support for their child. These conditions can stress any family to the breaking point. As parents often don’t know if heath care errors caused the injury, seeking a qualified lawyer to review the basic information is a good first start to seeing if additional care and financial help is available, and to see if they have a case.
Vancouver is a vibrant expanding city; however, our research showed that while there are some experienced firms, overall Vancouver may be under served in the area of birth injury medical legal support.
What do you want to see changed in Vancouver?
The public to have increasing awareness of the potential for problems, ways to avert injury, and where to seek help in the unfortunate event that injury may occur.
Who can make a difference to improve our societal environment?
The most important help will need to come from the health care providers by increasing the education and standards for both doctors and nurses, and from the government, by allowing a full recovery of all damages when medical negligence causes an injury.
To learn more about various birth injuries and more information about how you can contact Dr. Bradshaw and his team, visit www.vancouverbirthinjurylawyers.