If something goes wrong during labor and delivery, the OB/GYN doctor and labor and delivery nurses may only have minutes to deliver the baby, in order to avoid a permanent brain injury.
There are a number of important assessment tools available to assess fetal wellbeing, but as an experienced Texas birth injury and medical malpractice lawyer, two of them stick out in my mind.
First, any change in the baby’s movements in the womb can be important. Good OB/GYN doctors will counsel their pregnancy patients during prenatal care to pay attention to their babies’ normal movements.
Any time that there is a decrease in of the normal pattern of fetal movement, the mom should let her doctor know. If the mom perceives an absence of fetal movements, it is a medical emergency, and the mother should call her doctor and get to the hospital at once.
The need for the mother to pay attention to fetal movement continues during labor and delivery. If there is any change, or, in particular, if the baby stops moving, the labor and delivery nurses and doctor need to know at once. The healthcare team will want to do fast assessments to decide if there needs to be an emergency delivery to preserve the baby’s health.
Second, another useful tool to the labor and delivery team is electronic fetal monitoring. This allows the OB/GYN and L&D nurses to monitor in real-time the baby’s health.
Electronic fetal monitoring shows if the baby’s heart rate abnormally changes during or after a contraction, whether increasing (tachycardia) or decreasing (bradycardia). Other concerning findings including decreased variability (squiggly ups and downs) in the fetal heart line, or late decelerations (when the fetal heart rate drops after a contraction), which can show that the placenta is starting to fail and the baby may not be getting enough oxygen.
If there are problems that require an immediate, emergency delivery, some OB/GYNs and labor and delivery nurses use the term “fetal distress.” Of course, the goal is to deliver a healthy baby before any problems cause a permanent brain injury or death.
Meconium aspiration syndrome
After delivery, one of the signs that the baby was in fetal distress is when meconium is found in the amniotic fluid. Meconium is the medical term for a bowel movement, or defecation, by the baby while he or she was still in the womb.
If the baby breathes in meconium before delivery, it can cause a condition called meconium aspiration syndrome. After delivery, some babies with meconium aspiration syndrome can appear blue shortly after birth, and --can difficulty or absent breathing.
Depending on the baby’s appearance, breathing, and other findings at birth, meconium is sometimes a sign to the OB/GYN and neonatologist that the baby should be evaluated for a potential brain injury, called cerebral palsy.
As a Houston birth injury and medical malpractice lawyer, I have handled many cases where the OB/GYN and labor and delivery nurses did not deliver babies fast enough, and their negligence caused permanent brain injuries.
The global term to describe birth-related brain injuries is cerebral palsy. Sometimes babies are born with evidence of severe brain injuries, and for other babies the extent of the brain injury will not be obvious for years.
I have handled cases where there the electronic fetal monitoring clearly showed that a baby was in fetal distress, but the labor and deliver nurses did not notify the OB/GYN. Of course, the doctor does not know what the nurses fail to communicate, so the delivery was delayed and the baby had massive brain damage.
In other cases, the OB/GYN or her office staff did not give proper attention to a mother’s complaints about decreased fetal movements or other signs that the baby was in trouble. Their negligence led to a waste of precious time and the delayed delivery of the baby caused a permanent brain injury.
In yet other cases, I have represented parents whose OB/GYN doctor failed to order standard tests during pregnancy that would detect issues early enough that they could be treated and avoid any problems.
In one such case, a team of OB/GYN doctors repeatedly botched the standard of care requirement for Rh blood testing during the period of prenatal care. As a result, the baby developed a condition called fetal hemolytic anemia, caused by the mother and baby having a different Rh status (the mom was Rh-positive and the baby was Rh-negative). The mother’s immune system attacked the baby’s red blood cells, leaving the baby with almost no red blood cells to carry oxygen at birth. An MRI showed a brain injury, but the extent of the baby’s impairments and disabilities would not be known for years, as the little one grew up.
We are here to help
Birth injury cases are often medically complex and, under Texas law, have to meet many legal standards. Plus, doctors and hospitals consistently hire expensive legal teams to fight aggressively to avoid being held accountable. That is why it is important to hire an attorney with experience in handling birth injury medical malpractice cases.
At Painter Law Firm, we devote our practice to medical malpractice cases and have lots of experience in handling all kinds of birth injury cases and are available for a free consultation about your potential case, if you call us at 281-580-8800.
Attorney Robert Painter is a member of Painter Law Firm PLLC, where he handles birth injury and medical malpractice cases exclusively for injured patients and their families. As an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, he is not afraid of big-name doctors and hospitals. Robert Painter has filed and aggressively pursued successful lawsuits against every major hospital system in the Houston area, as well as other hospitals across Texas and in other states.