Newborns may be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for many different reasons. There are some babies that require intensive care for days, possibly even weeks. Babies during the neonatal period must be monitored closely and treated carefully because they are very fragile. A baby’s health can be severely affected by even the most minor misstep. Permanent brain damage could even result.
Reasons a baby could be admitted to the NICU include experiencing asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the brain during or near time of delivery). Asphyxia at birth can cause seizures and neonatal encephalopathy or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). If a baby is suffering from HIE they need proper treatment. If treatment is not received the brain damage may become worse resulting in cerebral palsy.
Other babies may be admitted to the NICU if they are born prematurely and/or are having difficulty breathing. The NICU will provide them with the careful monitoring and treatment they require. Failure on the part of the medical team to do this can result in the baby suffering from permanent brain injury and conditions including HIE, periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), sepsis, meningitis, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, developmental delays, and disabilities.
Common types of negligence in the NICU include:
- Failing to properly oxygenate and ventilate the baby,
- Failing to properly treat breathing problems,
- Failure to give a premature baby proper doses of surfactant,
- Failing to diagnose and treat conditions such as jaundice properly,
- Inattention in monitoring the baby,
- Delaying resuscitation at or after birth,
- Inserting the breathing tube properly,
- Failing to diagnose and treat infections properly,
- Failing to treat sepsis properly,
- Failing to diagnose and treat brain bleeds properly,
- Failure to recognize and manage brain problems,
- Failing to recognize and treat seizures,
- Improperly inserting and managing a feeding tube, IV, or central line, and/or
- Medication errors.
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