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Even pregnancies that have been normal can give way to birthing complications. When you are trying to cope with something unexpected during the delivery process, you rely on the guidance and knowledge of medical providers. Unfortunately, sometimes physicians, nurses, or hospitals fail to properly care for newborns and mothers. If your child was injured or died during the birthing process due to physician or hospital negligence, you have rights. Our birth injury lawyers are here to help.
Labor that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy can be very risky for both mother and child. Appropriate treatments to delay labor include the use of drugs that will help reduce or stop contractions, allowing the fetus more time to develop in the womb. These treatments are designed to reduce the risk of complications resulting in brain damage or respiratory distress syndrome that can result from preterm labor; however, these treatments carry risks as well. The decision as to which tocolytic agent should be used as first-line therapy for a patient is based on multiple factors, including gestational age, the patient’s medical history, common and severe side effects, and a patient’s response to therapy.
Tocalytic drugs that are commonly used to delay or arrest labor include magnesium sulfate, nifedipine, ritodrine, and terbutaline. Yet evidence is increasingly showing that the use of magnesium sulfate as a tocalytic is no more effective than nifedipine, while carrying a higher risk to the newborn. A 2007 study conducted by Thomas Jefferson University showed that the probability for adverse events was 57.9% for terbutaline, 22.0% for magnesium sulfate, 27.2% for nifedipine and 11.4% for indomethacin. In accounting for the extra cost of monitoring due to the likelihood of adverse events, nifedipine and indomethacin were found to be the optimal tocolytic agents.
If the risk of serious side effects and life-threatening complications is higher with terbutaline and magnesium sulfate, why do many doctors still choose them over nifedipine or indomethacin? Studies suggest the reason is simple force of habit.
Without appropriate treatment, preterm labor can result in premature birth. Children born prematurely are at an increased risk of a host of serious health conditions and may suffer lifelong physical or mental disability.
When a child is harmed because a physician fails to follow accepted protocol and negligently allows preterm labor to continue, it is vitally important to consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney. At The O’Keefe Firm, we are working to improve the safety and quality of medical care in Ohio by holding negligent doctors, nurses, hospitals and other medical facilities accountable for the harm they cause.
When labor has become stalled and the baby is in distress, Pitocin is an important drug to encourage delivery. Unfortunately, Pitocin and other labor-inducing techniques can be misapplied, causing uterine hyperstimulation or uterine rupture for the mother and lifelong injury to a child. In 2007 it was added to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices short list of medications “bearing a heightened risk of harm,” which may “require special safeguards to reduce the risk of error” because it is the drug most commonly associated with preventable adverse perinatal outcomes.
Electronic fetal monitoring is crucial to assess a baby’s health during labor. An external electronic fetal monitor is stretched over the belly of the mother, or an internal device is attached to the skull of the fetus through the cervix, which monitors important vital signs such as the heart rate of the baby. This monitor alerts the physician and nurses to any distress the baby may be experiencing. The data strips produced by the monitor are important tools in evaluating whether your physician was negligent in the birthing process of your child. If your child was born with any injury or if your child suffers from cerebral palsy, these data strips may provide evidence of negligence.
Forceps and vacuum extraction devices are frequently used in the birthing process to help deliver a baby that is stuck in the birth canal due to being breech or oversized. However, the misuse of these instruments can result in severe birth defects including shoulder dystocia, Erb’s palsy, brain damage, spinal cord damage, or cerebral palsy. Further, it can result in severe vaginal tearing for the mother causing the build up of scar tissue that may impact delivery in later pregnancies.
Prolonged labor and delivery can have a serious impact on the health of your newborn. Proper monitoring of fetal distress through an electronic monitoring device is essential to establishing proper care, allowing physicians to make important decisions about the induction of labor.
A prolapsed umbilical cord — an umbilical cord wrapped around the neck or trapped between the cervix and the head of the fetus — can cause fetal distress and can ultimately interrupt the flow of oxygenated blood to the baby causing fetal hypoxia, brain damage and cerebral palsy. Likewise, failure to monitor cord blood velocities or conduct high resolution ultrasound to detect umbilical cord complications; failure to perform a C-section in cases of vasa previa; failure to detect cord knots and nuchal cord (umbilical cord wrapped around part of the body) or failure to perform color Doppler sonogram studies to detect umbilical cord prolapse in breech presentations are medical mistakes that can result in injury to your newborn.
If your child suffered permanent injury as a result of negligent diagnosis and treatment of umbilical cord complications, your interests may best be served by consulting an experienced medical malpractice and birth injury lawyer. You may have legal options in seeking recovery for the harm you and your baby have suffered.