New standards announced to protect full-term babies born in hospitals


Over 90% of babies born in the United States are born at 38+ weeks gestation

November 9, 2018

It’s not so easy to pick a new doctor.

As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I have a good feel for how most people do it. They start by looking at who’s in-network for their health insurance. Next comes looking for what doctors are nearby. And finally, figure out who will give you an appointment in a reasonable time frame.

What’s interesting about that is none of that matters when it comes to finding a doctor who’s competent and safe.

Finding a hospital presents the same type of challenge. And it’s no accident.

Unlike any other industry I know of, healthcare has managed to get laws passed that keep their performance information largely privileged and secret. That makes it difficult for consumers—patients—to make an informed decision about the safest healthcare providers to pick.

With all this in mind, I’m always interested any time I learn about any new program that provides the public more information or holds hospitals accountable.

As a former hospital administrator, I think one of the best organizations that continuously raises the bar for hospitals is The Joint Commission. It’s a nonprofit organization that does thorough periodic inspections of hospitals determine whether they get or keep coveted accreditation.

Without accreditation, hospitals may lose the right to Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance payments—in other words, money is on the line. Money always gets the attention of hospital leadership!

New standards for reporting unexpected newborn complications

In 2018, The Joint Commission announced new reporting standards for hospitals, focusing on unexpected complications in term newborns with no pre-existing conditions. A term baby is born at 38+ weeks gestation.

Hospitals will have to report severe complications like neonatal death, transfer to another hospital for higher level of care, severe birth injuries such as intracranial hemorrhage or nerve injury, neurologic damage, severe respiratory, and infectious complications such as sepsis. Other severe complications include severe birth trauma, severe hypoxia/asphyxia, severe shock and resuscitation, and neurological complications.

They also must report moderate complications including things like a broken bone, respiratory complications, infections that don’t include sepsis, and newborn babies who aren’t released from the hospital in five or fewer days. Other moderate complications include moderate birth trauma, jaundice, and a hospitalization lasting over five days.

I think these new standards will improve accountability and understanding of hospitals outcomes for term infants. Up until this point, most of the reporting and evaluation focus has been on pre-term babies—those born before 38 weeks gestation. These new standards will help promote awareness and safety for term newborns, which account for over 90% of all births.

We are here to help

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured because of poor labor and delivery, birth, medical, or hospital care, then the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, are here to help. Click here to send us a confidential email via our “Contact Us” form or call us at 281-580-8800.

All consultations are free, and, because we only represent clients on a contingency fee, you will owe us nothing unless we win your case. We handle cases in the Houston area and all over Texas. We are currently working on medical malpractice lawsuits in Houston, The Woodlands, Sugar Land, Conroe, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Bryan/College Station, and Waco.


Robert Painter is a medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other healthcare providers. A member of the board of directors of the Houston Bar Association, he was honored, in 2018, by H Texas as one of Houston’s top lawyers. Also, in 2018, the Better Business Bureau recognized Painter Law Firm PLLC with its Award of Distinction.

Robert Painter

Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.


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