Are newborn bone fractures a form of medical malpractice?

The bones in newborn infants consist partly of cartilage, allowing the baby’s support structure to remain flexible (to a degree). The flexibility of infant bones protects them from injury, but that doesn’t mean fractures never occur.

Many infants suffer bone breaks during the delivery process. The trick is knowing if the incident is medical malpractice or an unavoidable incident.

Why do newborn fractures occur?

Many factors can increase the odds of a baby suffering a bone break as it enters the world. Examples include:

  • Narrow birth canals
  • Difficult vaginal deliveries
  • Use of tools like forceps and vacuums
  • The size of the infant (Large babies are at greater risk.)

Clavicle (collar bone) fractures are the most common bone breaks newborns suffer. Sometimes the fracture is no one’s fault. Other times, the physician or other medical team members may cause or worsen the fracture. When this happens, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

For example, if doctors become distracted during delivery, they could apply too much force when extracting the infant, resulting in a clavicle fracture. Even when collar bones break accidentally (which they can occasionally), the medical team should find the fracture while examining the infant. It may be malpractice if no one notices the break or if the doctor treats the injury improperly.

What should you do if this happens?

Seek immediate medical care if your newborn shows signs of a collar bone fracture (such as arm immobility and excessive crying from pain). Afterward, take your story to a New Jersey legal advocate for review. Together, you can investigate the incident to determine the cause of the break and whether a medical malpractice claim is warranted.

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