Giving birth is a joyous and dangerous endeavor. With the medical advances present in hospitals today, it is easy to forget the later. Unfortunately, dangers remain when new life enters the world.
Medical advances can help reduce the risk of injury, if used wisely. Medical professionals are expected to monitor the birthing process and intervene when necessary. Medical intervention can be brought on by a number of events, including a drop in the fetus' heart rate.
A failure to intervene when necessary can lead to birth injuries to the infant and the mother.
How common are birth injuries? These injuries are not uncommon. A publication by the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, which collects hospital care data from throughout the country, found that of the 4.3 million childbirths in the United States in 2006. Of these births, approximately 4 percent resulted in potentially avoidable injury to the mother and infant.
This may sound like a small amount, but it translates to almost 157,700 mothers and infants.
What are some examples of birth injuries? Birth injuries can range in severity from a broken collar bone to a severe head injury. Additional examples include infection and brain damage resulting from a lack of oxygen to the brain.
What costs are associated with these injuries? The initial expense of a hospital stay to deliver a baby can skyrocket if additional injuries are present. A recent piece in The Seattle Times discussed the additional costs that can develop in this situation, including:
- Testing. Determining the extent of the injury is often the first step towards treatment. Various forms of testing may be required to provide a diagnosis. Some of these tests may be covered by insurance; others may be the sole responsibility of the patient.
- Treatment. Once a diagnosis is given, treatment can begin. This could require additional medical procedures, medications or the use of medical devices.
- Professional help. In some cases, the infant may require constant care. This can be difficult for parents and additional help may be needed. Parents may need to hire a nurse or a nanny that is able to provide assistance.
These are just three of the many costs that can come with treating and attempting to rehabilitate after a birth injury. Parents need to be aware of these and other associated costs so that they can plan accordingly.