Birth Injuries in the NICU Due to Medical Malpractice Could be Very Serious
The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a place for seriously ill babies to receive specialized care for whatever needs they may have. While this is often the best place for these critically ill babies, it can also be a place of harm if care is not properly managed. Babies in the NICU are incredibly fragile and even the smallest mistake can cause significant harm. When babies are admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to receive care and are harmed as a result of a healthcare provider’s mistakes, it is considered to be medical malpractice. There are many injuries that a newborn can sustain in the NICU as a result of errors made by healthcare professionals. These injuries in the NICU can be life-changing and even life-ending, resulting in wrongful death.
Victims and their family who suffer injuries in the NICU should ask for a birth injury lawyer in Oregon or Minnesota to help review their case. Victims who can prove liability may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, and loss of consortium. This can be
Common Injuries Occurring Due to NICU Medical Malpractice
Sadly, neonates sustain harm every day as a result of errors made in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. While generally unintentional, it does not matter if it results in the harm of a critically ill defenseless newborn. Common injuries that occur in the NICU due to medical malpractice include the following:
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) – This is a serious and life-changing injury that results from a loss of blood flow (ischemia) and oxygen (hypoxia) to the brain. HIE can occur during labor and delivery, but also can occur after the fact while in the NICU. If healthcare providers fail to secure a baby’s airway at birth that is in distress, or if healthcare providers fail to monitor breathing machines such as ventilators baby’s can suffer from HIE due to a loss of blood flow and oxygen to the brain. These are very serious types of birth injuries in the NICU.
- Seizures – A seizure is a burst of irregular impulses in the brain, causing abnormalities such as twitching, limpness, rigidity, or stiffness that is temporary Seizures in the NICU can occur for a variety of reasons. While not all seizures are caused by medical malpractice, there are medical malpractice related causes such as failure to diagnose and treat hypoglycemia, failure to diagnose and treat brain hemorrhage, hypoxia due to mismanagement of breathing machines or failure to secure the baby’s airway, and medication errors amongst many other causes for seizures
- Organ damage – Organ damage refers to damage that has occurred to any of the organs (i.e. heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, brain, etc.). There are many different causes of organ damage with NICU related causes of organ damage including failure to diagnose and treat an infection, failure to secure an airway leading to brain damage, medication errors and failure to treat jaundice. There are many other additional causes of organ damage that can occur in the NICU.
- Vision loss or damage – A common cause of vision loss or damage in the NICU is retinopathy of premature (ROP). Vision loss or damage can be caused by healthcare providers failing to properly screen for ROP, monitor the condition or treat ROP, it can lead to permanent vision loss or damage
- Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) – This condition can be quite devastating as it can lead to a lifetime of cognitive deficits. PVL is caused by a loss of oxygen or blood flow to the brain, leading to brain cell death which causes a softening of the brain tissue due to permanent brain damage. Failure to diagnose umbilical cord problems, failure to identify fetal distress, or failure to ensure the baby had proper oxygenation are all potential causes of PVL. It is important to note that not all cases of PVL are due to medical malpractice, as babies who are premature are at risk for the condition.
- Cerebral Palsy – This is a devastating injury that can be cause by errors at birth, but also can be caused by errors made in the NICU while caring for an infant. CP is a devastating and irreversible condition that occurs as a result of brain damage. The condition is characterized by impaired muscle movement and often is associated with other disabilities such as learning disabilities, speech impairment, etc. Children with cerebral palsy often face a lifetime of struggles due to their condition. Cerebral palsy may be mild, moderate, or severe. Some children with CP require the use of crutches, a wheelchair, or other ambulatory devices to ambulate and may require assistance to complete activities of daily living. CP can be due to a brain injury occurring after birth, such as a failure to maintain the baby’s airway or failure to monitor and regulate breathing machines required to oxygenate the infant (i.e. ventilator).
- Wrongful Death – This is the worst injury that can occur in the NICU as death is permanent and irreversible. While babies do die in the NICU every day due to medical conditions and complications of prematurity that are unpreventable, there are times when mistakes happen. One small mistake can result in death for these fragile infants. Causes of wrongful death in the NICU can include medication errors (i.e. overdose of a medication), errors with regulating the newborn’s breathing (i.e. errors with monitoring a ventilator), or failure to maintain a clean environment resulting in a deadly infection. CP birth injuries in the NICU are very serious.
- Kernicterus – While a rare occurrence in the NICU, if Kernicterus develops in this setting it is generally always due to NICU medical malpractice, unless the newborn was admitted with the condition. Kernicterus refers to a type of brain damage that occurs as a result of improperly managed jaundice. Jaundice refers to an elevation of bilirubin in the blood. In cases of kernicterus, the level of bilirubin becomes too high, causing a seepage of bilirubin into the brain tissues resulting in brain damage. Kernicterus can occur in the NICU due to failure to identify jaundice or failure to properly treat jaundice.
Ask Our Lawyer for Help After Injuries in the NICU Due to Medical Malpractice Harm a Loved One
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form. We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.
Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton, Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles, St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.
We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.