Kentucky Ranks Poorly for Bike Safety in the US, Second to Last

KY Cycling safetyIn the United States, Kentucky ranks 49 out of 50 for bicycle safety. This ranking is second to last in the US, and is largely in part due to the fact that Kentucky has not created a safe and convenient bike network system. Instead, the state of Kentucky relies on a sidepath law, causing contention between walkers, bike riders and motorists. This law should be repealed as it causes confusion, with drivers believing bikers shouldn’t be on the road.

There is no safe passing law established in the state of Kentucky, and it is recommended by the Bike League that a safe distance for motorists to pass biker is three feet. With no safe passing laws in place, KY Bike Safety ranks one of the poorest in the United States. Kentucky does not protect cyclists, and in fact the laws in place now create tension between cyclists and drivers.

Laws for Kentucky Bike Riders

In Kentucky, bike riders have to follow the laws set for motorists, with only a few differences. A person riding a bike can use a highway shoulder to travel, unlike motor vehicles which must remain on the road. Bike riders can ride side by side, with a maximum of two riders traveling this way. Even when using a bike path, cyclists can’t travel with more than two people side by side.

Fatalities Of Cyclists Hit By Motor Vehicles

According to the US Department of Transportation, cycling accidents have accounted for 1.5% to 2.2% of the total fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents in the United States from 2003 to 2012. In Kentucky, 6 bike riders were killed in 2012, accounting for .8% of the total fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents that year in the state.

How Kentucky Can Improve Bike Safety throughout the State

At this time, Kentucky needs to start developing a bike infrastructure that provides a safe alternative to bikers that want to commute to work every day. The current path system is not exclusive to bikes, and it is not maintained sufficiently to provide a safe ride for cyclists. Bike riders are currently riding on the side of roads, but with no passing laws in place, motorists can legally pass cyclists at any distance they choose.

Kentucky will need to start spending money on establishing and improving bike paths to ensure that more cyclists aren’t killed on the roads this year.

The Bike League for Bicycle Friendly America ranks Kentucky at number 49 because Kentucky has not adopted a state bicycle plan, funding and programming has been down in the state for bike safety, and there is no vulnerable road user law. Kentucky needs to make a number of changes to their policies and practices regarding bike riders in the state, adopting new laws that protect riders.

 

Posted in Personal Injury

Ethan Manning Named in National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40

Ethan ManningMeinhart, Smith, and Manning associate Ethan T. Manning was named in the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 for 2015.

The National Trial Lawyers is a professional organization composed of top trial attorneys. Top 40 Under 40 membership is by invitation only and is restricted to just 40 attorneys in each state. Invitees have demonstrated superior qualifications, trial results, and leadership. Selections are determined by a multi-phase process including peer nominations and third-party research. Membership is granted exclusively to trial attorneys representing civil plaintiffs or criminal defendants.

Ethan has been practicing law in Kentucky since 2006. He has represented clients throughout the state in motor vehicle accident, medical malpractice, and product liability cases. He is admitted to practice in the Kentucky state courts, the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Kentucky.

Meinhart, Smith, and Manning is a Louisville-based law firm dedicated to helping members of the local community receive maximum compensation for losses and injuries sustained in accidents. The firm makes itself convenient and affordable to clients by traveling to meetings and court appearances throughout the state and by not charging a fee unless the client settles or wins their claim.

Posted in Firm News

GM Ignition Switch Recall Spawns Lawsuits

There’s a truism among engineers: “The more complex the machine, the more likely it is to have unexpected failures.” This is certainly true for the ignition switches on automobiles. These complex little machines contain dozens of parts with tight tolerances and control multiple functions. They aren’t simply on/off electrical switches. The simple act of turning your car key engages the electrical system, several computer modules, the car’s security system, and, critically, the air bags. The opportunity for a design flaw is obvious.

The alleged defect

As early as 2004, problems were noted with the ignition switches on the Cobalt. In an NPR story, Scott Oldham of Edmunds says he noticed a problem when he was first introduced to the car, while test driving it on a track. By pulling down on the key fob “ever so slightly” while the car was running, the ignition switch would rotate to the off position. This happened more than once during the test drive, when his knee brushed against the steering column.

The defect was tracked down to a defective “detent.” This is a spring-loaded pin which engages the ignition switch assembly (operated by the key) and holds it in the on position while you drive. By not engaging firmly, the faulty detent allows the switch to rotate too easily. Even the weight of other keys on a key ring could provide enough force for the switch to rotate to the off position.

The first death associated with the alleged defect happened in 2005.

Who knew and when?

By March of 2014, Congress was investigating GM to find out what happened and why no recall was issued. Documents show that as early as 2005, upper management was aware of the problem, but decided a recall would be too expensive. Instead, they notified their dealerships of the defect and advised them how to repair the vehicles.

Meanwhile, back in 2005, the switch was still being used, and similar ignition switches were being installed in other GM vehicles.

Why wasn’t a recall issued?

It’s all about money. Remember, 2005 was the start of what would be almost the death of GM. The recession was emerging and would reach full force over the next few years. The public wasn’t buying cars and GM would end up needing government aid to survive.

Recalls are expensive. It isn’t simply the cost of replacement parts, but the expense to have them installed, especially when there may be millions of cars needing the fix. The accounting question is whether fixing all the bad product will cost more or less than the lawsuit settlements. What this callous math misses is the real human tragedy those lawsuits represent.

The first recall wasn’t issued until 2014. By delaying nearly a decade, many of the cars originally manufactured with the faulty switch are now off the road. Allegations of a cover-up to save money have been denied by GM.

The deaths and the deals

Driving down the road at expressway speeds, you suddenly have no power steering. Your car engine dies, and the airbags shut off. Completely unaware of the ignition switch problem – because it hasn’t been publicized – you struggle to steer the car to the side of the road. Not everyone makes it.

One of the first lawsuits, filed in 2010, was just recently settled for an undisclosed sum. In that case, a 29-year-old nurse was killed when her Cobalt lost power steering and power brakes. The car slid into another vehicle. The air bags didn’t deploy and the driver, Brooke Melton, died.

According to CBS News, settlement deals have been reached with the families of 64 victims who died driving one of the recalled cars. Another 108 deals have been reached with those who survived but were injured. 1,571 claims against the automaker are under review. CBS reports the company “has set aside $400 million in its compensation fund and may pay out up to $600 million.”

Is my vehicle involved?

You can find out if you have a possibly defective vehicle by visiting GM’s recall site. You will need the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), found on your car’s registration and insurance documents.

If you think you or a loved one has been injured because of a defective ignition switch, it is imperative to contact an attorney to preserve your rights. Documentation is essential to prosecuting a case against GM for damages. The company has not admitted fault, even though they paid a $35 million fine for failing to disclose the problem. The Department of Justice is still deciding whether to file criminal charges against GM over this issue.

 

Related Information

Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Risperdal Lawsuit Awards 2.5 Million to Autistic Man

gynecomastia - male breastsJohnson & Johnson, the maker of the anti-psychotic Risperdal (risperidone) will have to pay 2.5 million to an autistic man in Pennsylvania who grew breasts while taking the drug. The condition, gynecomastia, is a known side effect of the medication, but the company was found negligent in warning both the prescribing doctor and the patient of this potential problem.

It’s not the first payout from J&J, nor is it likely to be the last. The now-20-year-old man suffers from autism, and one of the indications for the drug is treating the irritability and “acting out” common with the condition. However, the mechanism of action – altering brain chemistry – also triggers the release of prolactin, a hormone known to be involved in normal growth of the breast, both in adolescent girls and during pregnancy. This hormone is not normal in males, but their bodies respond by growing breast tissue nonetheless, including fat deposition and the glands that allow for lactation.

The victim in this case grew size 46 DD breasts while on the drug.

Drug-induced gynecomastia, in more severe cases, requires surgery to correct. But the emotional scars are perhaps the more serious tragedy for a young man, especially when he also suffers from autism. The difficulties of facing the world with a mental disorder are only magnified by the bizarre appearance, especially during the teen years, when peer approval is so important.

A History of Problems

Last month’s jury award follows a string of settlements involving Risperdal. There were a series of cases against the company for another, sometimes fatal, side effect when the anti-psychotic was used to calm patients with senile dementia. Elderly patients were found to have an increased risk of death from various causes when placed on this class of drugs. The company now warns against using their product for dementia-related psychosis.

In 2012, J&J settled a group of criminal and civil charges alleging the drug maker was marketing Risperdal to physicians for conditions that hadn’t been studied and for which the drug was not approved. Doctors relied on suggestions from the company about using the drug in adolescents and children before the FDA started allowing it in 2006.

The basis for the FDA approval for use in autistic children is also being criticized, since the company only conducted short-term trials in their submission. This is not unusual, since the drug had already been on the market for decades, and was thought to be safe for use in humans. But developing children are more susceptible to certain side effects. The short-term studies performed did not show the problems which can emerge with chronic use.

Should It Be Used at All?

The choice to medicate autistic children isn’t an easy one. It’s become a polarizing topic among parents with affected children, and the arguments are ongoing. Tempers flare on each side of the issue, and caregivers are caught in the middle – wanting to do the best for their child, but with no clear idea what “best” actually may be.

Autistic children who throw temper tantrums, are violent, or who have sudden mood swings are difficult to care for. In some cases, their aggression towards others, or a propensity to self-harm represent real dangers. It isn’t just about drugging a child to make them more manageable – at least it shouldn’t be.

In this mix, it’s a difficult decision, whether to medicate or not. And the choice of drug has to be weighed against the real possibility of side effects. Parents are faced with a tough choice, one they’ll have to discuss with their child’s doctor. However, not having the full information, information available to the company marketing the drug, destroys the ability to choose wisely. That’s the real damage here – when a corporation puts sales over their responsibility to provide the full risk picture.

What’s Next?

In light of this recent award, attorneys are being contacted by other parents who’ve had problems with side effects from Risperdal. An avalanche of lawsuits will surely follow. Whether Johnson & Johnson will remove autistic disorder symptoms as a use, or even withdraw the drug from the marketplace is unknown. Since they’ve already put out billions ($2.2 billion in 2013) to pay off other legal actions and keep the drug on the market, they might do the same thing again.

At its peak (2007) Risperdal sales topped out at $4.5 billion. Currently, sales are much lower because the drug went off patent and is available as a generic. Sales for the brand product (and the co-marketed brand Invega – a chemically related derivative) are estimated to be about $800 million globally now.

For those with a child who received Risperdal, either for autism-related problems or for other reasons, the best advice is to consult an attorney. Gynecomastia is only one of a number of possible side-effects from the drug, and patients who suffered unnecessarily while on the medication deserve compensation.

If you believe Risperdal or any other medication has negatively affected your health, or a loved ones, contact the experienced attorneys of Meinhart Smith & Manning PLLC to discuss your situation.

 

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Posted in Dangerous Drugs

Defective Takata Corp Airbags Lead to Injuries, Death

Takata Corp. Fined $14K Per Day In Product Liability Proceedings

Takata Airbag RecallsIn late February, U.S. regulators approved a fine of $14,000 USD per day against Takata Corporation, a Japanese company responsible for the manufacture and assembly of airbags in many cars on U.S. roads, including those made by Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, BMW, Ford, Honda and others. Takata has allegedly not cooperated with a federal probe into their products’ defective performance, handing over millions of pages of documents, but with no guide or training on how to interpret them correctly. Takata’s airbags have been linked to five deaths, multiple injuries and millions of recalls, and approximately 90% of the recalled cars have not had their airbags repaired as of March 2015. While Takata’s case is a somewhat extreme example of what can happen, it is nonetheless an example of what can happen if a company puts out a defective product.

The Takata Case

While as of this writing, no official charges have been filed against Takata or anyone connected with the corporation, evidence does appear to indicate that claims would be able to be made against the corporation.

A New York Times report from November 2014 reports that Takata allegedly became aware of potential faults in its airbags as early as 2004, conducting secret testing in that year, though the research was later destroyed. If this report has basis in fact, it could lead to allegations of deliberate fraud, and certainly provide sufficient evidence to allege a failure to warn. If the company had knowledge of the airbags’ tendency to rupture, but deliberately concealed it from the public, such an act might lead to both civil and criminal penalties.

Types of Product Liability

In most states, Kentucky included, there are three major causes of action when bringing a product liability suit: (1) strict liability, (2) negligence, and (3) breach of warranty. Strict liability is perhaps the most rare; it is when liability is imposed regardless of whether someone was consciously at fault – that is, as a matter of law. Breach of warranty is similar to strict liability, except that it is the condition of the product that is the issue, not the actor – in other words, if a seller promises that their product will meet certain specifications, and it does not, they may be in breach of the implied warranty. Negligence, by comparison, occurs when a person or company breaches their duty of care toward their customers due to recklessness or indifference.

Within these causes of action, there are three major claims. All of these can be alleged under a strict liability theory, under a negligence theory, or a theory of breach of warranty. The first is design defect. Design defect means that there is an inherent fault in the way a product was designed that did not occur in the manufacturing process. Usually, this is proven by showing that there was a viable alternative design that would have been safer and just as monetarily feasible to produce.

The second claim is manufacturing defect. Unlike design defect, a manufacturing defect does not exist in a product from the beginning, but rather occurs due to problems during the product’s actual creation. If a product in its finished form is not as it was intended to be by design, a manufacturing defect may have occurred. An example of this may be a lawnmower whose safety guard was never properly fitted – as designed, the product would likely be safe, but as created, the product is likely dangerous.

The third claim under the major causes of action is failure to warn. When failure to warn is alleged, it means that a company negligently or deliberately failed to adequately advise consumers of a product’s dangers. It is usually a manufacturer or seller who winds up liable in a failure to warn claim, because the people who create and distribute products are those who most often have a duty to advise consumers of the products’ dangers.

Lawsuits Against Takata for Injuries

Being injured by a product you thought safe can feel like a betrayal, and in the worst case scenario, it can upend everything you thought you knew. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The Louisville product liability attorneys at Meinhart, Smith & Manning, PLLC have years of experience in product liability cases, and are ready, willing and able to help you get what you need to get back on your feet. Contact our office today to discuss your options.

Posted in Personal Injury

Largest Pharmaceutical Recalls

Even though pharmaceutical drugs undergo rigorous testing and are closely regulated by the government, harmful pharmaceuticals still occasionally reach the market. At times, this may be because serious side effects that never surfaced when the drugs were given to test subjects began to affect a large number of patients once the drugs were placed into widespread use. This could be because the drugs weren’t tested in combination with other drugs commonly taken by patients with similar health issues or because the demographics of the test group weren’t broad enough. In other cases, the drugs were medically sound as designed but were made dangerous by flaws in the manufacturing process.

Once these problems arise, recalls begin and the affected patients begin to seek compensation for the harm they suffered. In the largest cases, class action lawsuits could lead to settlements worth billions of dollars in addition to millions of dollars in fines from government regulators.

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Posted in Dangerous Drugs

Off-label Use of Bone Graft Substitutes

Bone Graft Substitute Medical products which are manufactured and sold for one application can be used by physicians for other purposes. This “off-label” use is perfectly legal. It relies on the medical judgment of the responsible physician for safety. But there’s a possible danger as well – because the product hasn’t been tested for that specific use, a physician may not be aware of the dangers. This is why the FDA issues warnings to the medical community when it finds out about misuse.

The current Food and Drug Administration warning concerns an off-label use for bone graft substitutes.

We usually think of bone as a desiccated, rock-like material, more like porcelain than a living tissue. But in the body, bone has a blood supply and is capable of growth and healing, like other tissues, only slower. The slow growth is a problem when doctors need to make a major repair. Since bone provides structure to the body (like the wood framing in a house), the wait while bone heals means a limb has to be immobilized for an extended period. You can’t stress the bone you are trying to heal and expect it to repair itself properly. But the lack of movement also affects the attached muscles and tendons, possibly causing other problems.

In x-rays, you sometimes see metal screws and plates. The hardware helps stabilize damaged bone by taking the stress off, allowing both good alignment and healing. Another solution is grafting bone tissue from a donor (either the patient herself, or, as is common, a cadaver). With a graft, the missing bone doesn’t have to be entirely regrown by the patient – the graph can act as a “patch” and a filler. This is a huge advantage, since it reduces healing time.

How Bone Graft Substitutes Work

Bone grafts, or transplants are the second most common type of transplant procedure. Only blood transfusions happen more often. And just as there are blood banks, there are bone banks with supplies of material for grafts.

Finally, we have bone graft substitutes, the subject of the FDA warning. These are artificial substances, or natural substances (like cow bone cartilage) which are inactive. Some are putties or gels which can be injected where needed, and some are bone-like in appearance. But all are non-living and meant to provide a structure for new bone from the patient to grow one.

Because about half of bone grafts are used in spinal fusions, this, along with dental procedures, make up the bulk of the use for both natural and substitute bone. The demand is huge. However, to get the patient’s own bone to grow on the “patch” – the artificial scaffolding – chemical messengers are included in the products. These molecules trigger the patient’s healthy bone (where the patch is applied) to start making new cells, and these new cells will eventually form the final repair. These messenger molecules are called recombinant proteins or synthetic peptides. They are mixed in (or coated on) the bone graft substitute .

The Problem and the Warning

In an adult (someone over 18) none of the above causes problems. And bone graft substitutes are already approved for adults. Although there is some expected swelling from the disturbance, it eventually settles down and healing occurs as expected. But what about someone under 18, whose bones are still growing as they continue to mature?

The essence of the FDA warning is that off-label use of bone graft substitutes in patients less than 18 years of age comes with an added risk: the patient’s own growing bone, even at another nearby location, can mean the “patch” doesn’t stay where it is intended. There’s a serious risk of the repair pushing into an area where it not only isn’t wanted, but may cause harm. In a spinal graft, damage can happen if the patch “overgrows” and pushes against the spinal cord. But this overgrowth into an unwanted area can happen elsewhere too. And, the younger the patient, the greater the risk, since everything is closer and packed tighter in the more compact body of a younger person.

For an older adult, normal bone growth is at a minimum. They are as big as they will ever be. The orthopedic surgeon can estimate the swelling and new growth which will occur after the graft and take it into account. But with a younger patient, this isn’t as easy. Even years later, normal growth may push a repair into an area where it isn’t wanted, and possibly cause injury.

The Bottom Line

The FDA still allows bone graft substitutes to be used, off-label, in patients under 18. However, they strongly recommend a physician look to other options instead. It’s still up to the doctor (and the patient’s parents, who must approve the procedure) to decide if the risk is worth it.

By publishing the warning, the FDA is attempting to inform both doctors (and dentists, who use the same products for jaw repairs), of the known risks. Doctors should at least pass the information on to their patients under informed consent rules, and doctors may be taking on greater liability as well, since they cannot say they weren’t warned. But it is still legal to use substitute grafts in those under 18, and manufacturers are scrambling to get a product approved which will overcome the dangers.

The FDA’s specific recommendations for parents are:

  • Ask your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of treatments for bone defects and discuss his/her experience with performing these procedures.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if the treatment option recommended is FDA-approved or cleared and appropriate for the procedure you or your child is undergoing.
  • If you or your underage child was treated with these products, discuss with your healthcare provider how often bone healing should be monitored.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you or your underage child was treated with these products and is experiencing adverse events, such as fever, swelling, rash, pain, or physical changes near the implantation site.
Posted in Medical Malpractice

What is a Demand Letter?

car accidentIt is scary how quickly lives can be changed forever by an auto accident.  Someone who dies in an auto crash may have family likely able make a wrongful death claim against the insurance companies for the fault of responsible parties. Defendants in a car accident may try to defend by saying that the person who died assumed some risk or contributed to the injuries.

Resolving a car accident claim may take several months and sometimes years.  A claim usually begins with a demand letter to the responsible parties’ insurance companies or the responsible parties themselves.  Usually a demand letter cannot be written until all the damages such as medical expenses are assessed.

Elements of a Demand Letter

A demand letter demands that the insurance company or responsible party pay for the damages caused by the accident. There are several components to a demand letter that if not included could make it difficult to receive payment.

The first paragraph of the demand letter usually involves identifying the accident.  Insurance adjusters handle several accident claims at the same time so a plaintiff has to make his/her case stand out.  A demand letter must specify the accident and involved parties. If a police report was created at the time of the accident, include its number for easy reference.

The next paragraph should state the damages the plaintiff suffered.  It is not necessary to be overly specific because everything written and said after an accident will be scrutinized.  If someone says something early on in a case, and then remembers something different later on, even if the later story is true, the person’s credibility may be attacked.  Just make a general statement of the damages such as the cost of fixing a car, or the areas of the body hurt, and the amount of medical bills accrued.

Make the demand of repayment needed to make the injured party whole, and that the cause of these expenses was the auto accident. Do not be ambiguous about the exact amount of compensation sought.  Put a response date to show an answer or acknowledgement of receipt of the letter is necessary.

Those injured in a Kentucky car wreck may be looking at months, or years of recovery for personal injuries. Losing a loved one from a car crash can be a life-changing tragedy that requires the assistance of Kentucky personal injury attorneys for full justice. Contact our office today for a free consultation of how we can help you and your family.

Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Signs of Fetal Distress: What To Look For

No one wants to think of their baby in distress. However, it is imperative to be well versed in the possible problems that can arise during labor, both for your own health and to make sure your child’s health is safeguarded. If something does happen, being well-informed can be the difference between receiving the compensation you may be owed, and receiving nothing.

Signs and Symptoms of Fetal Distress

Fetal distress specifically refers to oxygen deprivation, most often during labor, though it can occur toward the end of pregnancy at well. The occurrence rate is hard to pin down. Estimates range from 1 in 25 to 1 in 100; whatever the rate is, however, it is common enough to be a concern in most deliveries.

Symptoms are somewhat difficult to notice without a fetal heart monitor – the most common symptom of fetal distress is a drastically reduced heart rate and rate of movement in utero. If you are near your due date or overdue, another sign is your baby passing meconium (essentially the first bowel movement) while still in utero. However, it is possible to be pro-active if you notice any potential risk factors in yourself during the pregnancy. Significant risk factors that increase the possibility of fetal distress are:

  • Pre-eclampsia, a condition which raises the maternal blood pressure significantly;
  • Hydramnios, which is having too much amniotic fluid;
  • Having a multiple birth; and
  • Being over age 35.

If your baby does become distressed before or during labor, the most common remedy by far is immediate delivery, usually via cesarean section. However, if that is not immediately viable, it is suggested that you lie on your left side to reduce pressure on major veins that may feed the placenta.

Oxygen deprivation can result in difficulties for your child, and it is important that your medical professional be ready to deal with any or all of them. If they have delayed too long, even by a second, it can change your child’s lifelong prognosis.

Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM)

One of the most reliable and common methods of verifying fetal health is electronic fetal monitoring (EFM). Reading a fetal monitor strip is quite complex and can usually only be done by medical professionals; failure to do so or failure to do so correctly can be the basis for a medical malpractice case.

EFM can be done in two methods, internal and external. External is done with a hand-held Doppler ultrasound, while internal is done with an electrode directly on the head of the fetus. There are several opportunities for medical mistake here, including using excessive force in placing the electrode. EFM is usually a tool used in court to point to a clean bill of fetal health before an alleged act of negligence, but it can also cause problems in itself.

Get An Attorney On Your Side

Fetal distress can be life-changing for you and your child. If it has happened to you or someone in your family, an attorney can help you receive the compensation you are owed. The experienced attorneys at Meinhart, Smith & Manning, PLLC are well versed in medical malpractice and negligence law, and we will fight for you. Contact our Louisville office for an initial consultation today.

Posted in Personal Injury

Prolapsed Umbilical Cord: Signs and Problems

Delivering a baby is both common and highly technical for an obstetrician. As such, there are countless problems that can occur during the process, yet a doctor will have trained for many years to anticipate them. A prolapsed umbilical cord is one of the most common problems, but also one of the most potentially dangerous. Still, it is often grounds for a medical malpractice claim because its damage is largely preventable.

Signs of Trouble

While there are many different problems that can occur with the umbilical cord, a prolapse is specifically when part of the cord slips down into the mother’s cervix before the baby makes an appearance during delivery. This can cause fetal hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, which can lead to brain damage and in very rare cases, stillbirth. It only occurs in around 1 of 300 births, though some figures point to as few as 1 in 500.

Since a prolapse happens so quickly, most of the time the only warning will be the mother actually being able to feel the cord in the birth canal. Sometimes, signs of fetal distress can be seen on the heart monitor, but not always. Fetal monitoring is critical to be able to remove the cord in sufficient time to prevent injury – any medical professional who does not closely monitor the fetus is in breach of the prevailing standard of care.

The risk factors for a prolapse include breech birth (when the baby is situated feet first), hydramnios (too much amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus), and having either multiple babies or a premature birth. Any or all of these can increase your risk for a prolapse by up to 50%.

Accepted Remedies

The most effective way to eliminate the risks posed by an umbilical cord prolapse is to order a cesarean delivery, and to do so quickly. There may be rare instances where a vaginal delivery will be faster, but the general rule is that a cesarean will be quicker and will put less pressure on the baby’s head. In your situation, it may be beneficial to try and get a sense of how far along your delivery is – if it is very close to completion, a vaginal delivery may be best.

If you are not in the hospital when the prolapse occurs, the accepted advice is to get on your hands and knees for as long as possible. This position reduces the gravitational pull on the baby’s head, and may prevent hypoxia from occurring for a short period of time.

It is important to keep in mind that while sometimes a prolapse is obvious, doctors cannot always distinguish between a prolapse and another source of fetal hypoxia. If the cord is under the baby, for example, no signs may show up on fetal monitoring at all. If there are signs visible that ought to tip a doctor off to a possible prolapse, a failure to diagnose may render them liable – but of course, no doctor can anticipate every issue.

We Can Help Set Things Right

If your child has been harmed by an umbilical cord prolapse, the birth injury attorneys at Meinhart, Smith & Manning, PLLC may be able to help. We have years of experience in the medical malpractice field, and we will do our best to get your family the compensation you are owed. Contact our Louisville office today for a free consultation.

 

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Posted in Personal Injury

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