Health care providers have a professional duty of care and make life-saving decisions during delivery based on readily available information. Substandard fetal heart rate monitoring and a lack of reaction to an abnormal heart rate can indicate the baby’s immediate status during delivery.
Any abnormal fetal heart rate could exacerbate birth injuries during the labor and delivery process. An irregular heartbeat can alert the medical professional to address a severe life-threatening issue that could cause the child harm.
Many medical malpractice cases are built on fetal monitoring errors when the health care provider failed to ensure that the fetus received adequate oxygen to ensure a regular fetal heart rate.
Medical Malpractice Claim Attorneys for Monitoring Mistakes
While it is never the intention for medical professionals to harm their patients, any error during labor and delivery could create lifelong problems for the child who must suffer from their preventable disabilities.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC specializes in representing the families and their children who have been affected by medical malpractice and negligence – including the failure to monitor a baby’s heart rate that results in brain damage, nerve injuries, developmental delays, and other birth injuries.
Abnormal fetal heartbeats could lead to a significant learning disability, developmental delays, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) when the fetus is deprived of sufficient oxygen. These conditions are often the result of a delayed emergency cesarean section or other immediate steps to save the life of the mother and child.
Obstetricians typically attach the mother and fetus to a heart rate monitor to identify the baby’s heart rate viewed on a graft. The mother’s contractions are also displayed. Contractions typically drop the baby’s heart rate slightly before returning to normal when the contraction is over.
An irregular fetal heart rate can be influenced by numerous contributing factors, including the mother’s fever or underlying health problems, like insufficient oxygen flow. Other contributing factors could include preeclampsia, infection, gestational diabetes, or an adverse reaction to the anesthesia used during delivery.
Contact our attorneys to learn more about how to file a medical malpractice case against a medical professional. You can reach us online, by phone, or provide information in a contact form.
We will act promptly to ensure all the necessary documents and paperwork are filed in the appropriate county courthouse before the state statute of limitations expires.
Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring Errors
A healthy baby’s heart rate is typically monitored between 110 and 160 beats per minute (bpm), which remains steady as the newborn transfers from the mother’s womb to life outside during delivery. Therefore, any abnormal or sudden change in the baby’s heart rate could establish a cause for concern.
Any fetal heart rate monitoring error could be caused by a wide array of errors, including a failure to monitor the mother’s uterine contractions, identify an abnormal fetal heart rate, and determine if the mother required more frequent monitoring.
The medical team’s failure to adequately monitor the newborn’s heart rate and evaluate the health and well-being of the baby and mother who suffered injuries could result in their deaths. In these cases, all medical professionals involved could be held legally liable for medical negligence that resulted in the baby’s birth injuries.
Many families will hire birth injury lawyers and discuss their confidential or sensitive information about how the obstetrician likely caused their child’s injuries.
Unfortunately, many of these cases involve heart rate monitoring errors. The nursing staff might have failed to follow fetal monitoring guidelines and not securing the monitor around the mother’s leg before inserting the sensor on the baby’s scalp.
Fetal Heart Monitoring to Detect Fetal Distress
Health care professionals use special equipment to check the baby’s heart rate during labor and delivery. There are two ways to accurately assess the neonate’s heart rate using a fetal monitor following the established professional standard of care.
The first method requires external monitoring, where the obstetrician uses a special stethoscope and two sensors on the mother’s abdomen to identify the baby’s heartbeat. In addition, obstetricians can utilize external monitoring remotely.
Alternatively, internal fetal heart monitoring often involves a sensor strapped to the mother’s thigh with a thin wire inserted through the center of the cervix and into the uterus. The treating physician then attaches the electrode to the baby’s scalp to monitor their fetal heart rate.
Once the baby’s head is engaged using internal heart monitoring, nurses accurately read the fetal heartbeat. This additional form of electronic fetal monitoring provides more accurate information in most cases, especially compared to data from external fetal heart rate monitoring attached to the mother’s stomach.
Internal monitoring tracks the baby’s heart rate, measures the mother’s contraction frequency, and determines whether the mother and child are involved in preterm labor.
Obstetricians use fetal heart rate monitoring for numerous reasons. Sometimes, a change in the baby’s heart rate can warn doctors that the child is in distress and that action needs to be taken to prevent birth injuries or save the child’s life.
In some cases, an improper fetal heart rate might indicate a potential complication of a baby in distress and problems with the mother’s heart rate. An abnormal heart rate can be the result of any of the following conditions.
- Nuchal cord— where the umbilical cord has partially or entirely wrapped around the baby’s neck, cutting off circulation to the brain and causing oxygen deprivation
- Uterine rupture or a tear in the uterus, which can have severe implications to both the mother and child
- Abnormal positioning, such as being feet first in the birth canal or difficulties resulting from the baby’s head being too large
- Abnormalities in the strength of contractions
- Separation of the placenta from the uterine wall
- Hypoxia/anoxia – the unborn child may be partially or wholly deprived of oxygen, leading to brain damage, nerve damage, paralysis, cerebral palsy, and stillbirth
When there is fetal distress, there are many possible injuries to the baby. If the health care provider does not act quickly, the unborn child may suffer permanent injuries.
The medical staff members could protect the unborn child by performing an emergency cesarean section surgery after an early sign of fetal distress, typically identified through electronic fetal heart rate monitoring.
Tachycardia and Bradycardia
Using a fetal monitor, any sign of fetal distress often indicates that the baby’s body is attempting to compensate for deprived oxygen or that it cannot tolerate the mother’s contractions. An observant obstetrician that diagnosed fetal distress will recommend an immediate cesarean section delivery.
The baby’s body might be responding through tachycardia, which usually indicates that the heart is working harder than usual to pump oxygenated blood through the body. While the compensatory mechanism is the body’s response to offset oxygen deprivation, the reaction will eventually fail when the baby can no longer maintain a high heart rate.
Alternatively, bradycardia usually identifies an abnormally low baby heart rate caused by hypoxia (deprived of oxygen). This body reaction often results from underlying health conditions or severe injuries, like nerve damage, causing an abnormally low fetal heart rate.
Inadequate Measures Taken to Address Irregular Heart Rate
When the hospital staff doesn’t take the required measures to prevent injuries to the child or mother when it is clear that the newborn is in distress, the resulting birth injuries could be considered medical malpractice. In these cases, the family might file a birth injury lawsuit for the cost of care associated with the resulting injuries or conditions, as well as any emotional distress it caused.
However, your personal injury attorney will need to establish liability by showing that the health care provider owed your newborn a duty of care using professional standards. Then, the attorney must show that the medical professional deviated from that standard, committing fetal heart rate monitoring errors that prove to be the proximate or actual cause of the baby’s injuries and damages.
Many child injury medical malpractice cases involving million-dollar settlements are based on the medical staff’s fetal heart monitoring mistakes where the child suffered needlessly.
Typically, the physicians or hospital’s insurance company will work with the family’s personal injury law firm to negotiate a settlement covering the household’s medical bills, hospitalization costs, pain, and discomfort.
Usually, the victim can recover damages that last a lifetime to pay for all the consequences of a medical error, including the cost of trained assistants, surgical and critical care, durable medical devices, therapy, rehabilitation, pain, and suffering.
Sometimes, the defendant or their insurance company fails to make a good faith offer, claiming it was something other than medical malpractice that caused the victim harm. Typically, in these cases, families have no other option than to take their cases to trial to receive jury verdicts that could include compensatory and punitive damages.
Attorneys for Fetal Heart Rate Birth Injuries
Do you suspect that the injuries your child sustained during birth were the result of negligence or malpractice? If so, contact the birth injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC today to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury attorney who will evaluate the details of your medical malpractice lawsuit and answer any questions you may have.
As a plaintiff, you may be entitled to damages such as pain and suffering and medical expenses necessary to treat your newborn during their life after suffering severe birth injuries.
Our birth injury lawyers are located throughout Illinois and have handled numerous childbirth injury cases nationwide. If our medical malpractice trial lawyers cannot collect the compensation that you are entitled to under the law, there will be no charge for our services.
Call our law office today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to schedule a free initial consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our super lawyers remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Many medical malpractice cases have already been resolved through million-dollar settlements to ensure families have sufficient financial compensation for providing all the treatment and care their child requires.