One of most rewarding things about helping people as an attorney in the area of medical malpractice is I get to learn a lot about narrow areas of medicine as they relate to the law. One of the areas where I spend a lot on time is cases is brain injuries and, in particular, the tragedies of brain injured babies. And as a father of four, these types of injuries are particularly bothersome to me. In case you or a loved one is going through a pregnancy and are looking forward to successful, healthy delivery, I want to share with you some observations that I have on some things that you can do as a patient or family member to prevent these types of brain injuries. As you get closer and closer to delivery—let's say about 30 weeks plus—one of the most important things to look out for is fetal movements.
Each mom will tell you how her baby reacts. Some of them will be up kicking at night, some during the day, and so forth. You want to play close attention to that fetal movement pattern. If that changes it is very important to report that to the doctor. The reason is that as you closer to the delivery date a decrease in fetal movement is one of the earliest indicators of a problem with the baby, and that needs to be communicated by you to the doctor immediately.
I am working on some cases right now where I have seen that the doctors or the doctors’ staff do not take them mom's complaints of decreased fetal movements as seriously as they should. And in those cases, unfortunately, if they had acted quicker, we believe that some terrible brain injuries could have been avoided. So you have to be politely pushy when it comes to communicating a change in fetal movements. And if you go to the gatekeeper—the receptionist or nurse that your OB/GYN’s office and that person says you don't need to see that doctor—just go drink some juice, try to get the baby to perk up, go rest, or go run or whatever, to try to wake up the baby—tell them, ‘I really want to see the doctor and you really want to have a thorough evaluation by the doctor because you're concerned about a decrease in fetal movement.’ No one will know better about a decrease in fetal movement than the mom.
So, number one, make sure you get seen by the doctor. And if you can’t get seen by the doctor go straight to the labor and delivery department, and politely insist on having a doctor come to come and evaluate you. You need to make sure as a patient you ask questions, make sure you're clear about the decreased fetal movements, and speak up and make sure you are just rushed out of the labor and delivery or doctor's office without a full evaluation. I recommend really in these cases that you be hooked up and evaluated for at least an hour, because during an hour or more period the nurses or doctors can see what is going on with the baby. You might have heard on a TV show or something that someone had ‘flatlined’ on an EKG.
Well it's the same thing on a fetal monitor strip—when you look at the tracing, you want to see a lot of variability and movement in the strip and the tracing. If you see something that is low and nonreactive with no bumps, or just almost is flatlined, that is something that needs serious evaluation. It might even need that it is necessary for emergency delivery. I am not suggesting you go in and tell the doctors and nursing how to practice nursing and medicine, but you can as a mom or a family member communicate things that you see, communicate things that you feel, and make sure that they have the information they need.
You need to make sure that you are getting the attention from the healthcare providers that you need, because quite often these injuries can be avoided. If you been in a situation where there has been a labor and delivery or birth injury, you're always welcome to contact us at Painter Law Firm for a free evaluation. Our number is 281-580-8800 or you can also reach us on the web at www.painterfirm.com.