Pregnancy is a complex and fascinating process. There are many factors along the way that medical professionals must be aware of. Given that, it’s important to remember that medical malpractice and negligence can occur at any time during the 9 months of pregnancy — resulting in a variety of devastating birth injuries such as cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy. From the first ultrasound to after the birth has occurred, here is what you — and others — need to be aware of.
1.) The Ultrasound
The first ultrasound of a fetus is an exciting moment. For prospective parents, the grainy image of a growing life is mysterious and compelling — but, for a medical professional, the ultrasound is an invaluable tool in diagnosing potential problems in a pregnancy.
Patients should be more cautious and skeptical about how the results of their ultrasound are interpreted. Early tests can detect abnormalities in the fetus’s brain, heart, liver, or kidneys. Did you know that untrained personnel offer 3-D ultrasounds in places like shopping malls? The ultrasound is an important diagnostic medical procedure — not a family portrait!
2.) Fetal Distress
Fetal distress is a frightening, yet common, occurrence — some estimate that it affects 1 in every 25 births. Most often, it occurs when a baby’s oxygen supply is compromised during labor, but it can also occur anytime during the 3rd trimester. If the condition is not promptly diagnosed — and then promptly treated — a baby may develop cerebral palsy, Erb’s Palsy, heart failure, or even suffer death.
Certain conditions in the mother such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes can increase the risk of fetal distress. In addition, acute conditions such as placental abruption and umbilical cord compression can cause this life-threatening condition.
It is important that medical professionals stay ever-vigilant during the entirety of a pregnancy and continue to monitor mothers for complications. Usually, if fetal distress is diagnosed, quick decisions are necessary and a C-section may be performed.
3.) Inducing Labor
Inducing labor can be a life-saving decision, as it can avoid complications from distress in both the mother and child. New research, however, has questioned the safety of certain drugs used to induce labor. All this is to say that each pregnancy is unique and therefore calls for a customized protocol.
Medical malpractice can often occur at this stage in the delivery. The decision to induce labor is an important one and should not be taken lightly. If you suspect your child has suffered a birth injury, either from the decision to induce labor or the decision not to, there are certain signs and symptoms you should look for and then discuss with your pediatrician.
4.) Prolonged Labor
Prolonged labor is defined as labor that lasts longer than 20 hours for a first-time mother and more than 14 hours for those who have previously given birth. Prolonged labor that occurs during the active stage of labor is a cause for concern and can lead to birth injuries.
The reasons for prolonged labor are varied. The birth canal or the woman’s pelvis could be too small or the baby could be in an incorrect position. It is important that a doctor investigates the root cause of prolonged labor — and then quickly works to remedy it —in order to avoid complications such as cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy.
5.) The Delivery
Birth injuries are often caused by the way a doctor or nurse manipulates a baby’s body during delivery. For instance, the use of forceps has been linked to devastating injuries for the baby — such as brain damage and even death.
It should go without say, but a newborn child is extremely fragile. At the point in delivery where the decision to use forceps, or to forcefully manipulate the baby, is made, the mother is often exhausted.
A recent study has revealed that medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. Questioning a medical professional’s decision after the fact is appropriate and can promote medical changes in routine protocol. Out of every 1,000 births, 7 babies will suffer a birth injury. This figure is simply too high.
How Staying Vigilant Can Help
Throughout pregnancy, medical professionals must monitor and test for many different complications. As patients, it is important that we demand competence and compassion from our doctors during this time.
If you suspect that your child has suffered a birth injury, do a future parent a favor and demand justice. Malpractice lawsuits help doctors improve safety and training, and are an important part of increasing the quality of healthcare for all.