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This seemingly minor oversight can lead to severe birth injuries

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2023 | Catastrophic Injuries |

Labor and delivery is a very dangerous time for both a mother and her unborn child. Many different things can go wrong that could lead to permanent injuries, infertility or even death. Most births take place at medical facilities specifically to protect mother and child from the worst possible outcomes.

Expectant women and their birthing partners rely on the support of professionals to ensure the healthy delivery of an unborn child. For a small but noteworthy number of new mothers, issues may arise because of mistakes by the professionals providing their care. One error, in particular, has a strong association with poor outcomes for unborn children.

What do labor and delivery staff sometimes overlook?

A woman in labor can communicate with healthcare professionals about how she feels and her concerns about the process. The unborn child cannot. They rely on medical professionals to preemptively recognize risk factors and apply appropriate interventions in a timely manner.

Small issues during labor can lead to catastrophic consequences. The infant can go into distress or end up deprived of oxygen for an extended amount of time. Many of the worst birth injuries relate to oxygen deprivation during labor. Therefore, the professionals working in a labor and delivery ward need to keep a close eye on the condition of the unborn child.

They achieve this through fetal heart rate monitoring, a process that should continue for the entirety of active labor. Special devices can track the heart rate of the child to warn professionals if the child appears distressed and may require immediate assistance. Fetal heart rate monitoring can show when a child is at risk and can lead to appropriate medical treatment, such as an emergency c-section, that could save the child’s life and protect them from debilitating lifelong birth injuries.

Unfortunately, staff members at hospitals are often inattentive about fetal monitoring. They may not notice if the device is in poor repair or returning questionable results. They may fail to check the readout in a timely manner, which completely undermines the usefulness of tracking the heart rate of the unborn child.

Those who fail to properly use fetal heart rate monitoring could overlook the early warning signs of things going wrong during labor and directly contribute to an unfavorable birth outcome. Families adjusting to the frightening prospect of caring for a child with birth injuries for the rest of their lives may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit in scenarios where hospital staff members did not follow best practices, such as consistently monitoring fetal heart rate.