When Could Medical Malpractice Cause Birth Injury Due to Resuscitation Errors in Oregon?
While many babies are born healthy and happy every day, there are sadly some babies who experience complications during their labor and delivery. Mothers and fathers look forward to the moment when they meet their baby for the first time. They do not picture the moment they meet their child to involve resuscitating their child because their child is not breathing or is not getting enough oxygen. Unfortunately, babies are born every day not breathing and need assistance with respiratory support. While sometimes babies are born and require resuscitation assistance at the fault of no one, there are times when a baby needs to be resuscitated due to a physician or other healthcare provider’s error, or are not properly resuscitated. A delay in proper resuscitation can lead to permanent brain damage, death or other injuries. When this occurs, it is considered to be negligence. This negligence could result in birth injuries due to resuscitation errors.
The injuries caused for birth injuries due to resuscitation errors could be obviously catastrophic. Newborn babies could have a limited or decreased oxygen supply—sometimes even no blood supply—and suffer serious injury, including injuries causes by hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or cerebral palsy.
The term resuscitation refers to revival of a person who is not breathing or is not adequately breathing. As mentioned above, there are times when resuscitation is indicated when a newborn is delivered. There are many ways that resuscitation efforts may occur, including the following:
- Suctioning the airway of the infant – Suctioning is used to remove any fluids (i.e. amniotic fluid) that may be blocking the airway
- Stimulation – Flicking the baby’s feet, warming the baby, drying the baby or rubbing their back are considered stimulation methods to stimulate breathing
- Manual ventilation – This type of resuscitation effort involves the use of a bag-mask to give the infant breaths when they are not breathing spontaneously
- Administration of Oxygen – The use of oxygen is indicated when babies are not maintaining adequate oxygen levels
- CPR – When the baby’s heart rate is too low (below 60 beats per minute), CPR is indicated
- Mechanical ventilation – Mechanical ventilation is the most serious type of resuscitation method. It involves the insertion of a breathing tube attached to a machine that breathes for the infant
- Medication – In some instances, the use of drugs such as epinephrine are used to aid in resuscitation. Additional medications used may include the use of surfactant
When is Resuscitation Indicated?
Resuscitation of the newborn is indicated when the the infant is in significant respiratory distress or is not breathing at birth. The baby may appear cyanotic (blue-tinged skin), very pale, and may appear unresponsive. Vital signs will show either no heart rate or a very low heart rate and the baby’s oxygen level will be low.
Reasons for Infant Resuscitation
There are many reasons why a baby may need to be resuscitated. There are some risk factors that may place the baby at a higher risk for needing resuscitation, including the following:
- Prolapsed umbilical cord
- Preterm labor
- Post-term labor
- Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
- Large infant (Macrosomia)
- Use of extraction tools during delivery (i..e forceps, vacuum extraction)
- Meconium aspiration
- Placental abruption
- Placenta previa
- Young or older maternal age (less than 16 or over 40)
- Severe bleeding during pregnancy
- Gestational diabetes
- Premature rupture of the membranes
- Certain maternal diseases
- Maternal history of prior high-risk births
These are just a few of the many factors that may lead to the need for infant resuscitation. Birth injuries due to resuscitation errors could result in serious injury or even wrongful death to an innocent baby.
What Errors are Made Leading to Resuscitation Errors or the Need for Resuscitation?
There are many mistakes that can lead to an error in the resuscitation of the newborn. Some examples of these resuscitation errors include the following:
- Missing signs of fetal distress prior to delivery of the baby
- Inadequate fetal monitoring, leading to respiratory distress at birth
- Failing to identify an infant who is in need of resuscitation, leading to further distress which can lead to serious injuries to the newborn
- Errors made while trying to mechanically ventilate the infant (i.e. improper insertion of the endotracheal tube, over ventilation or under ventilation of the infant once on the ventilator)
- Novice staff delivering babies unaccompanied by more seasoned physicians, leading to errors occurring
Birth Injuries Due to Resuscitation Errors
There are many birth injuries that may occur due to inadequate resuscitation efforts. These injuries can be life altering and permanent. Examples of these include the following:
- Brain Damage – Brain damage may be mild, moderate or severe depending on the severity of the error that occurred during the resuscitation of the infant
- Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy – This is a severe type of birth injury that can occur due to resuscitation errors. A baby with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy has a reduction in the amount of blood flow and oxygen to the brain, leading to significant brain damage
- Cerebral Palsy – Cerebral palsy is caused by a loss of oxygen at birth. Babies with cerebral palsy may have mild, moderate or severe effects that can alter their ability to walk, talk, feed themselves, dress themselves or be independent adults
- ADHD – ADHD is a neurodevelopment disorder. Children with this disorder have difficulty concentrating, may be impulsive and may be excessively active
- ADD – This disorder is very similar to ADHD, but children with this disorder are not typically overly active
- Developmental delays – Babies who experienced an error with resuscitation efforts may be slow to achieve new milestones in relation to peers that are the same age
- Learning disabilities – Children with learning disabilities struggle to learn. These disabilities affect the the child’s ability to understand written or spoken language. They may struggle with math, coordination, or attention
- Autism – a developmental disorder that impairs the child’s ability to interact and communicate
- Impacted IQ score – Children who experienced a delay or error in resuscitation may have a lower IQ due to brain damage that occurred as a result of the error.
Ask Our Portland, OR Medical Malpractice Lawyer if Birth Injuries Due to Resuscitation Errors Harmed Your 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.