Monitoring Errors During Labor Leading to Birth Injuries in Oregon

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How To Know When Monitoring Errors During Labor Could Be Due to Negligence

While many babies are born happy and healthy, there are times when distressing situations can occur during the labor and delivery of the baby that can lead to harm of the baby or mother. While there is always the potential for complications, there are safeguards in place in regard to monitoring of the mother and baby in an effort to identify signs of distress early to allow for early intervention. One example of a type of monitoring that is done while a mother is in labor is fetal monitoring. When monitoring is done properly, it can save a life (or two).  But monitoring errors during labor could be disastrous.  

This is because fetal monitoring allows for nurses and doctors to monitor the mother and baby while in labor through the use of a device that transmits to a computer, showing the baby’s heart rate as well as the contractions the mother is experiencing. Failure to appropriately monitor can lead to serious harm of the baby. When appropriate monitoring is not performed or if it is performed but signs of distress are missed, this could be considered to be medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice in Oregon or Minnesota and allow a victim to recover compensation under the law.  This includes for monitoring errors during labor.  The amount of compensation and legal options a family has depend on many factors relating to the claim.  Always ask an experienced birth injury lawyer like ours at CK Legal for a FREE consultation to learn what your legal options may be.

Types of Monitoring During Labor Explained

Contraction Monitoring – Monitoring of contractions during labor is important. It shows when a contraction starts and when a contraction finishes. It is also very important as it can show if contractions are too close together or are abnormal, leading to fetal distress. Fetal heart rate is tracked simultaneously with the contractions.

Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring – There are a few different types of fetal monitoring. Electronic fetal monitoring is when a women wears a device externally that continuously monitors the heartbeat of the baby as well as the contractions during labor. Additionally, there is internal monitoring that may be performed if the mother’s water has broken and membranes have ruptured. For both of these methods, the data is transmitted to a machine, allowing physicians and nurses to monitor and intervene if distress is identified. Auscultation is another method which just allows a doctor to periodically listen to the baby’s heartbeat. While continuous fetal monitoring is not required in all hospitals, it is strongly encouraged as periodic monitoring can allow for distress to be missed, leading to serious complications or even wrongful death. The type of monitoring that is conducted depends on the hospital policy, the physician, and the mother’s risk of having complications. 

These methods of monitoring are vital as they can literally prevent a slew of complications, including wrongful death from occurring. 

Fetal Heart Rate: What is Normal and What is Abnormal

Fetal heart rate is monitored as mentioned above to ensure that the baby’s heart rate is not too fast or too slow. Ranges for normal heart rate, low heart rate, and high heart rate include the following:

  • Normal – 110-160 beats per minute
  • Slow – below 110 beats per minute (bradycardia)
  • Fast – above 160 beats per minute (tachycardia)

Indications of Fetal Distress During Labor

While as mentioned above many babies do just fine while the mother is labor, there are times when the contractions and stress of coming out of the birth canal are stressful for the baby. Signs of fetal distress during labor many include the following:

  • The baby’s heart rate is too high (greater than 160)
  • The baby’s heart rate is too low (below 110 for a prolonged period of time)
  • There is a delay after a contraction in the return to the baby’s baseline heart rate
  • There is abnormal heart rate variability in response to the contractions

Birth Injuries Due to Improper Monitoring During Labor

While birth injuries can sometimes occur at the fault of no one, there are times when birth injuries can be prevented entirely. If signs of fetal distress are missed, or if proper monitoring is not conducted and leads to birth injuries, this is considered medical malpractice. Examples of birth injuries due to improper monitoring and failure to identify and intervene when there is fetal distress include the following:

  • Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Vision impairment
  • Hearing impairment
  • Severe cognitive impairment and development disability 
  • Mental health problems
  • Wrongful death
  • Brain damage

These are just a few of the many examples of birth injuries that can occur in this setting. 

Complications that Can Lead to Fetal Distress

There are some complications that can occur and may not be avoidable. However, it is the healthcare team’s job to identify these complications as well as fetal distress that can occur as a result of these complications. Examples of potential complications leading to birth injuries include the following:

  • Uterine tachysystole – this often occurs as the result of labor inducing drugs and is often due to too much of the labor inducing drug being administered
  • Umbilical cord prolapse
  • Umbilical cord compression
  • Uteroplacental insufficiency
  • Uterine Rupture
  • Placental abruption
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion

Monitoring Errors During Labor That Could Be Due to Medical Malpractice

As mentioned above, while some complications simply cannot be prevented or anticipated, there are times when complications can be entirely avoided. When a physician or other healthcare provider fails to identify signs of distress that can lead to a complication, this is negligence. No child should ever have to have their lives altered due to someone’s mistake. Examples of negligence in regard to monitoring during labor, leading to complications include the following:

  • Failing to properly monitor the mother during labor
  • Failing to identify signs of fetal distress during labor
  • Failing to intervene when there is fetal distress
  • Failing to identify prior to labor that the baby will not fit through the mother’s birth canal (cephalopelvic disproportion) 
  • Attempting a vaginal birth when there are known complications or reasons why a vaginal birth may be dangerous
  • Failing to perform a c-section when indicated
  • Failing to perform a c-section when the baby is in a position that is not conducive for a vaginal delivery (i.e. breech or transverse)

These are just a few of the many ways that a physician or other healthcare provider can fail you and your child by allowing these life-altering complications to occur. The complications that can occur due to labor monitoring errors are permanent and irreversible. Sadly, little can be done once brain damage has occurred. 

If You Believe Monitoring Errors During Labor Harmed Your Child, Call Our Birth Injury Lawyers

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.

For a free case evaluation


(541) 385-1999 in Bend, Oregon
(503) 479-3646 in Portland, Oregon
(612) 444-3374 in Minnesota

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