Fetal demise or newborn death during or shortly following delivery is a profoundly tragic event, often resulting in deep emotional and psychological impacts on the parents. Understanding the warning signs of fetal distress, the potential dangers, and the causes is crucial in improving outcomes and advocating for the unborn child’s well-being. Additionally, having dedicated health providers focused on the infant during delivery can significantly enhance care and reduce the risk of adverse outcomes.

Importance of Staff & Care Protocols in Preventing Newborn Death

Ensuring hospitals adhere to proper protocols in staffing and medical care during labor and in the care of an infant during and immediately following birth is critical for the health and safety of both mother and child. Proper staffing means having a sufficient number of trained medical professionals, including obstetricians, midwives, pediatricians, and nurses, who are equipped to handle the complexities of childbirth. Adhering to established protocols ensures that every aspect of the birthing process is managed according to the highest standards of medical care, minimizing risks and enhancing outcomes. When hospitals prioritize these elements, they provide a safe and supportive environment, leading to healthier mothers and babies.

Failure to Adhere to Proper Protocols Puts Infant Lives in Jeopardy

A recent article published in The Morning Call, a Lehigh Valley newspaper, reported that “a baby born at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton suffered a collapsed lung and died shortly after birth. About seven months later, another newborn died under similar circumstances.” According to the article, “These two incidents at LVH-Hazleton were the subject of an inspection by the Pennsylvania Department of Health in January, which found numerous deficiencies and violations of federal and state regulations. Specifically, state investigators found that the hospital failed on multiple occasions to ensure that on-call-pediatricians arrived at the hospital in 30 minutes or less.”

Adequate Healthcare Staffing is Vital During Labor & Delivery

As evidenced by the state inspection mentioned above, adequately trained staff during labor and delivery is crucial. Each professional plays a vital role. It is also essential that a skilled pediatrician be on hand to provide immediate care for a newborn. Potential issues like fetal distress, preeclampsia, or unexpected delivery complications can be promptly addressed when proper protocols are followed. This multidisciplinary approach ensures that any complications are swiftly and effectively managed, reducing the likelihood of adverse outcomes such as emergency C-sections or prolonged labor, which can increase risks for both the mother and the baby.

Inadequate staffing or failure to follow protocols can lead to dire consequences. For example, without a sufficient number of trained professionals, signs of distress in the mother or baby might be missed or misinterpreted, leading to delayed or inappropriate interventions. This can result in complications such as hypoxia, where the baby does not receive enough oxygen, potentially causing brain damage or even stillbirth. For the mother, lack of proper care can lead to severe hemorrhaging or untreated preeclampsia, both of which can be life-threatening unless promptly addressed. These outcomes underline the necessity for hospitals to maintain rigorous standards in their staffing and procedural protocols.

Immediate Post-Birth Infant Care is Critical

The immediate care of an infant post-birth is equally crucial. Proper protocols include ensuring the baby can breathe adequately, maintain body temperature, and initiate breastfeeding. Pediatricians and nurses must be vigilant in monitoring vital signs and responding to any signs of distress or abnormality. Proper protocol also involves the timely administration of necessary medications and conducting essential screenings. Failure to follow these procedures may cause complications such as neonatal jaundice, infections, or respiratory issues, which, if not managed promptly, can have long-term health implications.

Ultimately, the importance of hospitals following proper protocols in staffing and medical care during labor and the immediate care of infants cannot be overstated. It is a matter of life and health for both mother and child. Hospitals must commit to rigorous training, maintaining adequate staff levels, and adhering to evidence-based protocols to ensure the best possible outcomes. When these standards are met, the risks of complications or infant death are significantly reduced, leading to safer deliveries and healthier futures for newborns.

Warning Signs of Fetal Distress

Fetal distress refers to indications before and during childbirth that the fetus is not well. Some common warning signs include:

  1. Decreased Fetal Movement: A significant decrease in the baby’s movements might indicate distress.
  2. Abnormal Heart Rate: A fetal heart rate outside the normal range (110-160 beats per minute) can signify problems.
  3. Meconium in Amniotic Fluid: The presence of meconium (the baby’s first stool) in the amniotic fluid can indicate fetal stress.
  4. Fetal Growth Restriction: A very tiny baby.
  5. Abnormal Amniotic Fluid Levels: Too much or too little amniotic fluid can be a warning sign. 

Advocating for Your Unborn Baby

Advocacy for an unborn baby begins with being well-informed and proactive. Here are steps parents can take to advocate effectively:

  1. Educate Yourself: Understanding the risk factors and warning signs of fetal distress is essential.
  2. Prenatal Visits: Regular check-ups allow healthcare providers to monitor the baby’s development and identify potential issues early.
  3. Birth Plan: Create a detailed birth plan outlining your preferences and concerns and discuss it with your healthcare provider.
  4. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to speak to your healthcare provider about any concerns or symptoms you experience.
  5. Monitor Fetal Movements: Monitor your baby’s movements, especially in the third trimester, and report any significant changes to your healthcare provider immediately. 

Importance of Dedicated Health Providers in Preventing Newborn Death

The presence of a health provider focused solely on the infant during delivery is crucial. This professional, often a neonatal nurse or neonatologist, can provide immediate and specialized care to the newborn, addressing any complications promptly. Their roles include:

  1. Monitoring Fetal Heart Rate: Continuously monitoring the baby’s heart rate during labor to detect any signs of distress.
  2. Immediate Response to Complications: Being prepared to handle emergencies, such as respiratory distress or meconium aspiration.
  3. Newborn Resuscitation: Skilled in neonatal resuscitation techniques if the baby has difficulty breathing at birth.
  4. Postnatal Care: Providing necessary care immediately after birth, including assessments and interventions to ensure the baby’s health. 

When Medical Negligence Ends in Tragedy

The death of an infant during or shortly after delivery is a heartbreaking event with various causes and risk factors. By recognizing the warning signs of fetal distress and advocating effectively for their unborn child, parents can play a pivotal role in ensuring the best possible outcomes. Furthermore, the presence of dedicated healthcare providers focused on the infant during delivery can make a significant difference, providing specialized care that addresses any complications promptly.

If your family has suffered an unexpected newborn death as the result of the negligence of a healthcare provider, our infant wrongful death attorneys will advocate for your rights and help you get the justice you deserve. The birth injury lawyers at DKY Law are highly experienced in cases involving infants who have sustained injuries or died due to medical malpractice before, during, and after delivery.

“Our son suffered HIE, a very serious birth injury caused by lack of oxygen to the brain,” commented a DKY Law birth injury client. “This injury left him with the need for a lifetime of medical and other special care. We met with Mike Kowalski and immediately felt comfortable and confident that Distasio, Kowalski & Yelen was going to do their absolute best for our son. Although the damage to our son can never be undone, when Mike Kowalski successfully settled the case, we gained the peace of mind in knowing that all of our son’s special needs will be met and that he will receive the best care possible.”

Contact the DKY Birth Injury Law Firm

Contact a dedicated Distasio Kowalski & Yelen birth injury and wrongful death lawyer in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania today for a confidential case evaluation.  Link to contact We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.

Michael J. Kowalski, a partner with DKY Law Firm, has been representing individuals and their families in personal injury matters for 30 years. These include cases involving medical malpractice, medical errors, birth injuries, and auto and truck accidents, among others. If you are injured, you want Attorney Kowalski and the DKY Law Firm fighting for you. Contact Attorney Kowalski today.



Jeffrey A. Yelen, a partner with DKY Law Firm, is an Elder Law Attorney who brings 25 years of estate planning, probate and estate litigation experience to the clients he serves. He is head of the firm’s Elder Law and Estate Services division and is highly experienced in Wills, Estates, and Trusts.  When you are searching for an Elder Law Lawyer, Attorney Yelen can provide the skilled legal representation you and your family need. Contact Attorney Yelen