Hospitals have special units for very premature babies known as a NICU. A NICU stands for neonatal intensive care unit. It is essentially an intensive care nursery which specializes in caring for ill or premature babies. Each nurse has a small number of patients and there are several other nurses and medical staff which closely monitor the babies in the NICU. Special doctors are also available right in the large nursery for a majority of the time, or at least on the floor going between several NICU nurseries. Staff working in a NICU must be specially trained and have experience treating these types of patients.
Like any other department in a hospital, a NICU is susceptible to medical malpractice. But a baby in a NICU is very fragile and very vulnerable. This is why mistakes in the NICU usually result in the DEATH of a baby, and not the permanent injury—but that can happen too if the baby survives.
Some common mistakes of medical malpractice in NICUs include the following:
- Failure to monitor the baby;
- Failure to treat infections;
- Failure to properly dose medication;
- Injuries caused by the breathing machine;
- Failing to oxygenate the baby;
- Failing to comply with sterilization procedures;
- Failing to identify complications;
- Failing to identify injuries such as brain bleeds;
- Failing to recognize and treat seizures;
- Not diagnosing serious and life-threatening conditions;
- Failing to resuscitate the baby in a timely manner;
- Dropping the baby;
- Mishandling or applying too much pressure to the baby;;
- Failing to treat a bleed;
- Failing to perform imaging studies if needed;
- Improperly inserting the breathing tube
- Improperly inserting an IV or central line;
- Mixing up babies;
- Wrong site surgery; and
- Many other causes.
Babies in the NICU are some of the most vulnerable people in society, we must protect them. This is why medical malpractice is a way to both compensation the victim and the victim’s family, as well as punish the negligent healthcare provider and facility.
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