When a child is being born, obstetrical caregivers and other medical professionals have a duty to monitor the baby’s vital signs closely. This is done with the electronic heart monitor and other such devices. The information these devices provide is often critical. Having this information enables doctors to make appropriate choices if the baby is in fetal distress during labor and delivery.
Both mother and child are placed in danger when medical professionals fail to monitor, fail to interpret information accurately, and fail to respond to fetal distress. These failures may result in brain injury or even death of the infant. These failures may also result in serious personal injury to the mother, who could become victim to rushing surgeons who are solely concerned with the child and completely overlook any issues with the mother.
Fetal distress includes many symptoms that result from a variety of health problems. Such health problems include:
- When the baby’s heart rate significantly increases or decreases in the birth canal or womb.
- The infant’s movement decreases noticeably through the birth canal.
- The levels of lactate in the baby’s blood are high, which could indicate lactic acidosis.
- The amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus shows evidence of meconium.
There are many different causes of fetal distress. In many cases, it can be caused by oxygen deprivation in the infant. This can easily lead to asphyxia and brain damage. Oxygen deprivation can be triggered by:
- Shoulder dystocia- this is caused by stress on the baby’s head, shoulders, and neck.
- Umbilical cord prolapse – when the cord precedes the baby.
- Nuchal cord – the umbilical cord has wrapped around the neck of the fetus.
- Placental abruption – the placenta has become detached.
- Uterine rupture – there is a tear in the uterus.
- Breech presentation or the fetus is in an abnormal position during delivery.
Like other types of medical malpractice cases, birth injuries are a form of negligence and require certain elements to be proven. This includes establishing a duty of care owed between the health care provider and the mother and baby. This duty must be breached by the health care provider. This breach must have caused an injury and damages. If the breach was the proximate cause of your injury and damages, you have satisfied the most difficult element in your matter. If all four elements are met, then you have established a prima facie case of medical malpractice.
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