Most Common NICU Mistakes Due to Medical Malpractice

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Know Your Rights: Common NICU Mistakes Due to Medical Malpractice in Oregon

Sometimes, when a baby is born they need extra support than most. This can be for a variety of reasons, but often is due to prematurity. When a baby needs additional support or observation, they are sent to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The NICU can be an excellent place for seriously ill newborns to receive care. However, unfortunately there are times when a seriously ill newborn suffers harm in their already fragile state as a result of a mistake made by a doctor, nurse or other healthcare provider in the NICU. These already fragile newborns can be seriously harmed or even suffer from death as a result of mistakes made in the NICU. This is never acceptable and is due to negligence. There are many common NICU mistakes due to medical malpractice that could be completely avoided too, resulting in serious harm.

Why is the NICU Needed?

The NICU can be needed for many reasons. The most commonly known indication for a NICU stay is prematurity. Babies are considered premature if they are born before 37 weeks of gestation. According to The Mayo Clinic, babies born at or before 25 weeks are considered extremely preterm, if born at less than 32 weeks are considered very preterm, if born between 32 and 34 weeks are moderately preterm, and if born between 34 and 36 weeks are late preterm. 

While many of the babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit are there because of prematurity, there are many other reasons that a newborn may require a stay in the NICU, including the following:

  • Infections (acquired maternally or after birth)
  • Respiratory distress
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Birth defects
  • Heart problems
  • Low birth weight
  • Jaundice
  • Need for blood transfusions
  • Need for IV fluids or medications
  • Maternal drug or alcohol use
  • Observation or treatment after a baby suffered from fetal distress during labor
  • Management of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or other brain injuries

These are just a few of the many indications for a stay in the NICU. 

Who Are the NICU Care Providers?

There are many different individuals that care for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. They all receive specialized training to be able to provide care to the babies that need this special type of care. Caring for a seriously ill newborn is quite different from caring for any other population, which is why they are required to have specialized training. Individuals on the care team for these newborns include the following:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Physician Assistants
  • Dieticians
  • Pharmacists
  • Medical Assistants

This diverse team of professionals typically provides excellent care to the newborns they serve. However, unfortunately this is not always the case when something is missed or an error is made. Any one of medical providers are capable of making a mistake leading to infant harm.

Mistakes Commonly Made in the NICU

Sadly, as mentioned above mistakes are made every day in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that result in infant harm. Mistakes that are commonly made include the following:

Medication Errors – this is perhaps the most common type of error occurring in the NICU. In relation to medication errors, mistakes may include improper dosing, administration of a drug that the infant is allergic to, administration of a drug that should not be administered, or administration of a drug in the wrong way or at an improper rate. 

Resuscitation Errors – This type of error is quite serious and can be deadly or cause permanent damage to the newborn. If a newborn isn’t breathing properly, it is essential for the airway to be properly secured to allow for proper oxygenation. Any type of delay in resuscitation can result in serious complications due the brain and other organs being deprived of oxygen.

Failure to Treat or Diagnose Infections – Sometimes a baby is sent to the NICU as a result of an infection that was passed from the mother to the baby. Babies may need antibiotic therapy or other care to effectively treat the infection. Other times, a baby may develop an infection while in the hospital or specifically in the NICU as a result of a mistake made, such as failure to maintain a clean or sterile environment. 

Breathing Assistance Errors – Babies in the NICU often require respiratory support with the use of oxygen, ventilators, or other devices. These devices require close monitoring as well as very close monitoring of the infant to ensure the device is functioning properly and properly oxygenating the baby. Mistakes relating to breathing assistance include failure to monitor the baby and machine, errors with settings on the machine, and failure to identify if the baby is not getting enough or is getting too much oxygen amongst many others.

Failure to Manage Intracranial Hemorrhages – neonates born prematurely or those having suffered a traumatic birth are at risk for brain hemorrhages. If the NICU fails to identify and treat intracranial hemorrhages, it can lead to serious harm, including wrongful death. 

Failure to Identify and Treat Neonatal Hypoglycemia – Babies sometimes have difficulty maintaining their blood sugar for various reasons. If the baby’s blood sugar is too low and is not managed properly, it can lead to serious infant harm. 

NICU Injuries from Medical Malpractice: Common NICU Mistakes Due to Medical Malpractice

There are many ways that medical malpractice could harm an innocent person.  We do not think that these errors would harm the most innocent of people, such as a baby.  Especially a baby that is in the NICU.  But NICU injuries from medical malpractice in Oregon can have a disastrous impact of families.  Learn how our medical malpractice lawyer in Bend, Oregon can help you are your family recover compensation.

There are many injuries that an infant can sustain as a result of errors made in the NICU. These injuries include the following:

  • Seizures
  • Brain damage
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Vision   or loss
  • Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Kernicterus
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental delays
  • Organ damage
  • Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)
  • Wrongful death

These are just a few of the many NICU injuries from medical malpractice that newborns sustain everyday in the NICU as a result of errors made.

Errors Due to Medical Malpractice

As mentioned above, sadly newborns are injured every day as a result of errors made. These babies are fragile already, needing the highest level of care so a small mistake can be deadly or life-changing. Common examples of medical malpractice in the NICU include the following:

  • Failure to diagnose an infection
  • Failure to treat and infection
  • Failure to monitor oxygen and ventilation settings
  • Failure to order appropriate testing
  • Failure to provide treatment for hypoglycemia, jaundice, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or other conditions
  • Failure to appropriately secure the airway in a timely manner
  • Failure to safely and appropriately administer medications
  • Failure to maintain clean or sterile technique 
  • Failure to appropriately treat intracranial hemorrhages

Call Our Birth Injury Lawyer for NICU Mistakes Due to Medical Malpractice in Oregon

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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