Negligent acts and medical errors related to obstetrical care can turn a joyful birth into a parent’s nightmare. A couple in New Jersey now knows what can happen when doctors misuse Pitocin and other labor induction drugs. Due to medical errors in labor, their baby died of acute respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and neonatal sepsis. If the medical staff acted differently, their son would be alive and healthy today.
According to Injury Lawyer News, the mother began receiving prenatal care in 2013. Her pregnancy related risk factors, which included pregnancy-induced hypertension (preeclampsia), polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid), macrosomia (large baby), obesity and gestational diabetes. Later that year, she went to the hospital on two separate occasions for labor induction and cervical ripening. Both attempts at cervical ripening failed. Finally, when she went in for delivery, doctors administered Pitocin to induce labor.
The medical staff’s third attempt to deliver the baby vaginally also failed. One of the physicians caused the membranes to rupture prematurely (PROM). The fetal monitor showed that the baby was getting into trouble and not getting enough oxygen. Instead of ordering an emergency C-section, hours passed by. After a C-section was eventually performed, the baby was born depressed, due to lack of oxygen, and sent to the NICU. He received a diagnosis of neonatal encephalopathy (HIE), suspected sepsis, suspected chorioamnionitis, seizures and severe metabolic acidosis. He was transferred to another hospital where he received hypothermia (cooling) treatment.
Unfortunately, it was too late and he died of brain damage from the HIE. During the course of the mother’s treatment, there were a number of ways the medical staff should have acted differently. Below, we will discuss a few instances of medical malpractice which resulted in birth injuries and death.
Proper Treatment of Gestational Diabetes and Macrosomia
In a case where the fetus and the mother have diabetes, complications can arise. The most significant risk is that the baby will be born too large (macrosomic) and not fit through the birth canal. Diabetic mothers can deliver healthy babies, but only with proper medical care and attention. Planned, early deliveries can reduce the risk of macrosomia and babies getting stuck in the birth canal, causing birth trauma. Planned deliveries are usually recommended at 39 weeks or sooner, but may vary based on risk factors and complications.
Diabetes, if not managed properly, can cause other issues, such as respiratory distress, birth asphyxia (HIE), neonatal hypoglycemia, hyperbilirubinemia and preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced hypertension). That’s why it is so important to monitor and manage diabetes properly.
Overuse of Pitocin and Delayed C-Section
Pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin, is a drug used to induce labor and speed up birth. It increases the frequency and strength of contractions. Pitocin is a “high-alert medication,” meaning it has a heightened risk of causing patient harm when used in error. When a mother contracts, Pitocen interrupts the oxygen supply to the baby. If contractions happen too frequently with an excessive use of Pitocen, the baby will not be able to receive adequate oxygen. This can result in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). This damage to the brain due to lack of oxygen often causes other disabilities and birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy and developmental delays. It can also lead to death.
Emergency C-sections must be performed in many cases to prevent brain injury, HIE and death. Fetal distress, placenta previa, uterine rupture, cord prolapse and a failure to progress in labor are some of the reasons for performing an emergency C-section.
Birth Injuries Can Be Prevented
All obstetrical care, from prenatal care to labor, must be according to standards of care. If you have an injured child, call us to find out if you might have a case. At Reiter & Walsh, PC, we have the experience and the knowledge to help you and your child to get the care that they need. Call us for a free case review.
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