How is a birth injury medically diagnosed?

A medical diagnosis of a birth injury is done per physical signs of trauma, results of an APGAR score, or other indications that the child has suffered an injury during labor and delivery. Not all birth injuries are serious, as some will heal on their own (such as a broken bone) but others could be long-term or permanent (such as brain damage).

At the same time, not all birth injuries are caused by medical negligence. Some are just part of what can be a difficult birthing process. A Cleveland, Ohio medical malpractice attorney can help determine if it might have been preventable and if the medical care provided was unreasonable.

Using the APGAR Test to Assess a Newborn’s Condition 

The APGAR is a test performed immediately after birth to assess: 

  • breathing;
  • heart rate;
  • muscle tone;
  • reflexes; and
  • skin color.

Each category gets a 0, 1, or 2. Babies with lower scores may require further testing or monitoring or a medical diagnosis may reveal a mild to serious medical condition requiring treatment.

Assessing the Baby’s Physical Condition to Reach Medical Diagnosis 

An assessment of physical injuries may be one the primary ways to diagnose a birth injury, though in some cases it may not be enough to reach a medical diagnosis on its own; further testing may be required.

For instance, forceps or vacuum extraction might be used if there are difficulties during delivery. Minor bruising or marks may not be a major problem, but swelling may indicate injuries like cephalhematoma, which is bleeding between the skull and the periosteum.

The swelling itself may be a physical indication of the condition which may not require treatment, but some severe cases may lead to jaundice if not treated, so blood tests may be performed to monitor bilirubin levels.

Imaging Technology to Reach a Medical Diagnosis 

Some conditions, such as those pertaining to the brain, may require medical imaging to give the physician an image of the brain. Cerebral palsy, for example, may require imaging techniques such as MRI, CT scans, or ultrasounds. These imaging techniques allow the physician to examine potential areas of damage or development that may indicate cerebral palsy or other conditions.

Assessing Whether Birth Injury is Related to Medical Negligence 

Parents whose child has been diagnosed with a birth injury may consult a Cleveland, Ohio medical malpractice attorney to discuss a suspected case of negligence on behalf of a doctor. A lawyer will examine whether the doctor may have caused the injury itself, contributed to it, or failed to act in a manner that may have prevented complications.

A medical expert may be called upon for help evaluating the standard of care given the particular scenario that may have led to a birth injury. If the doctor is found to have failed to act with a reasonable standard of care, he or she may be considered negligent and the Cleveland, Ohio medical malpractice attorney may help file a claim.

Talking to a Cleveland, Ohio Medical Malpractice Attorney about Filing a Claim 


Some examples in which a doctor may be considered negligent are: 

  • delays in treatment;
  • failure to anticipate complications/problems;
  • not responding to signs of fetal distress; and
  • misusing equipment.

Contact the Cleveland, Ohio medical malpractice attorneys at Mellino Robenalt LLC to discuss a potential claim if a medical diagnosis reveals a birth injury you suspect is related to negligence.

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