Regrettably, a baby is often the victim of medical malpractice. It is estimated that a birth injury occurs seven (7) times for every 1,000 deliveries. Events during delivery can result in the fetus suffering from an asphyxial insult resulting in long-term neurologic damages to the newborn (cerebral palsy). These insults are often preventable medical errors that can be avoided if the healthcare providers properly interpret the electronic fetal monitor. The fetal monitor is a means whereby the fetus communicates how he or she is tolerating delivery to the healthcare providers. If healthcare providers do not listen to (observe) these communications, tragic outcomes occur.
The most sensitive fetal monitoring is internal electronic monitoring. Internal monitoring involves the insertion of a sensor into the uterus which is then attached to the scalp of the baby. A tube that measures uterine contractions is typically placed into the uterus close to the baby. This tube monitors the strength and timing of contractions. All of the information which is derived from internal monitoring is then printed onto strips which are then interpreted by the healthcare providers attending to the delivery process. Electronic fetal monitoring determines the baby's heart rate which should be between 110 to 160 beats per minute. During a contraction, the heart rate of the baby drops but should rapidly return to normal after the contraction is over. If the heart rate of the baby is less than 110 beats per minute or greater than 160 beats per minute, this is an abnormality and can be cause for concern.
In addition, the fetal monitoring tracings have to be properly interpreted by the healthcare providers in attendance during delivery. If these tracings become nonreassuring, prompt intervention needs to be taken in order to prevent a hypoxic (lack of oxygen) insult to the baby. Typical nonreassuring tracings include recurrent decelerations, overshoot, decreased variability and an increased resting uterine tone. Once nonreassuring fetal heart rate tracings are manifested, unless vaginal birth is imminent, an emergency Cesarean section must be performed. Failure to promptly deliver the baby can result in severe hypoxia (lack of oxygenation of the brain) which can result in permanent brain damage to the baby resulting in cerebral palsy.
Fortunately, the vast majority of deliveries result in the birth of a beautiful healthy child. However, failure of healthcare providers to properly interpret electronic fetal monitoring tracings can result in cerebral palsy which requires extraordinary sums of money to provide care for a child afflicted with this condition. Learn more about Birth Injury Lawyers today.