A little boy has hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), seizures, developmental delays and cerebral palsy because he was deprived of oxygen during labor and delivery when the medical team misused the delivery drug Pitocin.
Near the time of her due date, a mother went to the hospital when she began having contractions. The physician artificially ruptured her membranes and gave the mother Pitocin soon thereafter. Medical records note that the mother began experiencing tachysystole, which is a condition in which contractions become too fast and too strong. Tachysystole is a dangerous side effect of Pitocin use and it can cause the baby to experience a lack of oxygen to the brain that gets progressively worse. The fetal heart monitor showed that the baby’s heart rate was nonreassuring, a sign of oxygen deprivation (birth asphyxia). Despite the tachysystole and nonreassuring heart tracings, the medical team made no move to deliver the baby by emergency C-section. The physician allowed a vaginal birth to occur, which took several hours.
At birth, the newborn was lifeless and needed resuscitation. He needed a breathing tube and had to be placed on a breathing machine because he couldn’t breathe on his own. He also had acidosis (acidic blood), respiratory distress and a feeding disorder. Shortly after delivery, the little boy began having seizures and he was soon diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy and cerebral palsy. He was later diagnosed with developmental delays.
AWARD WINNING BIRTH INJURY ATTORNEYS HELPING CHILDREN
The award winning birth injury attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have helped dozens of children affected by hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, developmental delays and cerebral palsy. Jesse Reiter, president of ABC Law Centers, has been focusing solely on birth injury cases for over 28 years, and most of his cases involve hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy. Partners Jesse Reiter and Rebecca Walsh are currently recognized as being two of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report 2015, which also recognized ABC Law Centers as one of the best medical malpractice law firms in the nation.
If your child experienced a birth injury and now has seizures, HIE, developmental delays, cerebral palsy or any other long-term condition, contact Reiter & Walsh today at 888-419-2229. Our award winning birth injury lawyers are available 24/7 to speak with you. No fees are ever paid to our firm until we win your case.
PITOCIN INCREASES A BABY’S RISK OF BIRTH ASPHYXIA, BRAIN INJURY & HYPOXIC ISCHEMIC ENCEPHALOPATHY
Pitocin and other labor drugs, such as Cytotec, are very risky since they can cause tachysystole. Thus, the physician must be prepared to quickly deliver the baby at the first signs of fetal distress and oxygen deprivation. As with all deliveries, the fetal heart rate tracings should be closely watched and interpreted. When nonreassuring heart tracings occur, an emergency C-section delivery is usually the safest intervention for the baby. Failure to quickly deliver a baby who is experiencing birth asphyxia can cause the baby to have hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), brain damage and lifelong conditions such as cerebral palsy and developmental delays.
The administration of Pitocin in this case was negligent. It was also negligent for the physician to fail to quickly deliver the baby when he was in distress and experiencing birth asphyxia.
Pitocin is indeed a dangerous drug. There is no way to predict how a mother and baby will tolerate it. It can cause contractions that are very strong and that are only 2-3 minutes apart. This causes the placenta to have inadequate time to recharge with a fresh supply of oxygen-rich blood for the baby. The placenta is the organ that transports the baby’s sole source of oxygen to him through the umbilical cord. Anything that affects the placenta can cause the baby to receive insufficient oxygen.
According to the medical records of the mother in this case, she was actually experiencing tachysytole before being given Pitocin. This is a contraindication to Pitocin administration, which means she should not have been given the drug in the first place. This negligent use of the labor drug coupled with the fact that the medical team failed to promptly deliver the baby boy when he was in distress resulted in devastating consequences for the child.
Pitocin use can cause the following complications:
- Strong and prolonged uterine contractions (tachysystole, hypertonic uterus)
- Uterine rupture
- Maternal water intoxication (too much water in the system that causes an electrolyte imbalance, which can cause potentially fatal brain disturbances)
- Impaired uterine blood flow
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage in the baby (bleeding between the brain and the thin tissue that covers it)
- Tachycardia, bradycardia, premature ventricular contractions and other cardiac arrhythmias in the baby
All of these issues are very dangerous for the baby and can cause conditions such as birth asphyxia and brain damage.
HYPOXIC ISCHEMIC ENCEPHALOPATHY (HIE) CAN CAUSE BIRTH INJURIES SUCH AS CEREBRAL PALSY
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a brain injury caused by insufficient oxygen in the baby (hypoxia) and decreased blood flow (ischemia) to the baby’s brain. HIE can cause the baby to have permanent brain damage and conditions such as the following:
- Cerebral palsy
- Developmental delays / developmental disabilities
- Motor disorders
- Intellectual disabilities
- Learning disabilities
Signs of HIE in a baby include the following:
- Resuscitation of the baby at birth
- Low Apgar scores for longer than 5 minutes. An Apgar score assesses the overall health of a newborn over the first few minutes of life. It assigns scores to things like the baby’s skin color / complexion, pulse rate, reflexes, muscle tone, and breathing.
- Seizures within the first 24 – 48 hours of delivery
- Difficulty feeding, including inability to latch, suck or swallow
- The baby’s blood is acidic / has a low pH at birth
- Hypotonia (low muscle tone)
- Abnormal limpness
- Multiple organ problems (e.g., involvement of the lungs, liver, heart, intestines)
- No brain stem reflexes (e.g., breathing problems and an abnormal response to light, and only blood pressure and heart function reflexes are functioning)
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) must be diagnosed right away because treatment for the condition has a 6 hour window. This means that a baby with HIE must be treated within 6 hours of the time he experienced an oxygen-depriving insult; thus, treatment often must begin within 6 hours of delivery. The more severe the oxygen-depriving insult, the sooner the treatment should be given. The treatment is called hypothermia (brain cooling) treatment and research shows that it halts almost every injurious process that starts to occur when the brain experiences a hypoxic / ischemic insult. Hypothermia treatment can prevent a child who has HIE from developing cerebral palsy or it can reduce the severity of the CP.
DELAYED DELIVERY WHEN A BABY IS IN DISTRESS CAN CAUSE HYPOXIC ISCHEMIC ENCEPHALOPATHY, CEREBRAL PALSY & OTHER BIRTH INJURIES
Delayed delivery is often the cause of birth injuries. It is the standard of care to continuously monitor the mother and baby closely during delivery and pay attention to signs of any conditions that can cause harm to the baby, such as tachysystole. It is also the standard of care to continuously monitor the baby’s heart rate and closely interpret the heart tracings. The medical team must act quickly when a baby is in distress. This often means that the baby must be delivered by emergency C-section right away. It is negligence when a baby is not quickly delivered when he is in distress. It is also negligent to fail to promptly deliver a baby when the mother is experiencing a dangerous labor and delivery condition such as tachysystole or a ruptured uterus (womb).
Other conditions that usually require a prompt delivery include:
- Umbilical cord problems, such as a nuchal cord (cord wrapped around baby’s neck), umbilical cord prolapse, short umbilical cord and cord in a true knot
- Vasa previa
- Preeclampsia / eclampsia
- Placental abruption
- Placenta previa
- Anesthesia mistakes, which can cause blood pressure problems in the mother, including a hypotensive crisis. This can greatly decreases the supply of oxygen-rich blood going to the baby.
- Oligohydramnios (low amniotic fluid)
- Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) / premature birth
- Prolonged and arrested labor
- Intracranial hemorrhages (brain bleeds), which can be caused by a traumatic delivery. Forceps and vacuum extractors can cause brain bleeds. Sometimes intense contractions (hyperstimulation) caused by labor induction drugs (Pitocin and Cytotec) can cause head trauma. Mismanagement of cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD), abnormal presentations (face or breech presentation), and shoulder dystocia also put a child at risk of having a brain bleed.
- Pitocin and Cytotec can cause birth asphyxia due to hyperstimulation, tachysystole and uterine hypertonus.
- Fetal stroke
- Postmaturity syndrome
- Placental insufficiency and intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). Babies with IUGR often do not tolerate labor well.
ATTORNEYS HELPING CHILDREN WHO HAVE HYPOXIC ISCHEMIC ENCEPHALOPATHY, CEREBRAL PALSY, DEVELOPMENTAL DELAYS & OTHER BIRTH INJURIES
If you had a delayed delivery when your baby was in distress, contact the award winning birth injury attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers. Reiter & Walsh is a national birth injury law firm that has been helping children with birth injuries for almost 3 decades.
Birth injury lawyer Jesse Reiter, president of ABC Law Centers, has been focusing solely on birth injury cases for over 28 years, and most of his cases involve hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy. Partners Jesse Reiter and Rebecca Walsh are currently recognized as being two of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report 2015, which also recognized ABC Law Centers as being one of the best medical malpractice law firms in the nation. The lawyers at ABC Law Centers have won numerous awards for their advocacy of children and are members of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group (BTLG) and the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ).
If your child was diagnosed with a birth injury, such as cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), the award winning birth injury lawyers at ABC Law Centers can help. We have helped children throughout the country obtain compensation for lifelong treatment, therapy and a secure future, and we give personal attention to each child and family we represent. Our nationally recognized birth injury firm has numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success and no fees are ever paid to our firm until we win your case. Email or call Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers at 888-419-2229 for a free case evaluation. Our firm’s award winning lawyers are available 24 / 7 to speak with you.