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

Preventable medical errors can cost you your health and possibly even your life. Each year people across the country die or are severely injured due to preventable medical errors. While we look to medical providers to diagnose and treat us, preventable medical errors can and do happen in healthcare settings. A new study detailed in an article by Yale University reported that most hospital medical errors involve poor monitoring or management of medical conditions. Diagnostic errors and errors related to surgery and procedures are also prevalent. While any medical error can be dangerous, there are some that are more common and can be more harmful.

Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis

A timely, accurate diagnosis is critical to your getting proper medical care. A fairly common medical error, delayed, or the wrong diagnosis can result in severe harm to a patient. Misdiagnosis may occur because a healthcare provider failed to ask the right questions or order adequate testing for a patient. A busy physician might order tests, but then fail to review thoroughly. Even if an accurate diagnosis is eventually made, a delay in diagnosis on the part of a healthcare provider can lead to the loss of valuable time in treating a serious illness.

Protect yourself from delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis

  • Take an active role in your care. Advocate for yourself, and ask questions. Being involved as a patient can be very important in preventing diagnosis errors. Follow up on test results and speak up if you have doubts.
  • Provide a full medical history. If you feel your medical provider is not asking enough about your history, speak up and provide as much information as you can.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. Quality healthcare professionals support that decision.
  • Bring a family member to appointments or to the hospital to ask questions and help get information from your doctor.
  • Educate yourself and research your symptoms.

Medication Errors

According to the FDA, a medication error is defined as any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer. Medical errors are one of the most common, preventable medical errors. Medication errors can occur when a patient gets the wrong medication or the wrong dosage. This error can occur on the part of a doctor writing a prescription or entering medication into a computer system, a nurse dispensing medication to a patient or a pharmacist error in filling a prescription. Medication errors are also caused by incorrect labeling on the part of a drug manufacturer.

The FDA has put many safeguards in place to help prevent medication errors. This includes barcodes that allow healthcare professionals to verify the right drug and dose is being given to a patient. They have also published guidelines to help manufacturers design drug labels and packaging to minimize or eliminate hazards that lead to medication errors.

To be proactive in helping to prevent medication errors, the FDA recommends that you:

  • Ask your doctor the name and purpose of any drug you are prescribed, as well as the risks and potential side effects. Ask about drug and food interactions as well.
  • Be sure you understand the directions in taking the drug, dosage, etc.
  • Check the container label each time you take a medication. Don’t transfer medication to another container, so you can always check the original label.
  • Keep an updated list of all of the medications you are taking.
  • If in doubt about medication, double-check with your pharmacist or another healthcare provider.

Surgical Medical Errors

Mistakes during and after surgery can have devastating results. This includes medical complications and possibly even death. Surgical errors can include wrong-site surgery, wrong operation, operating on the wrong part of the body, leaving a foreign object in a patient, or operating on the wrong patient. Post-surgical errors can include neglect in providing proper post-op care.

Protect yourself from surgical errors

  • A common theme for protecting yourself from medical errors is asking questions. Fully understanding your procedure and treatment can help you catch potential problems. Talk to your surgeon about the details of the procedure.
  • Research your procedure.
  • Take notes and detail everything.
  • Request medical staff show you where they will be performing surgery and mark the spot.

Anesthesia Errors

Errors involving anesthesia can cause permanent injuries or death. They can include failing to evaluate a patient’s medical history for possible complications or failing to provide proper instructions. Administering the wrong dose of anesthesia, improper placement of breathing tube, or not properly monitoring a patient on anesthesia are other potential errors.

Be proactive with speaking with your anesthesiologist before surgery

Be sure you are supplied specific instructions prior to surgery that addresses preparation. This might include not eating or taking certain medications. You will meet your anesthesiologist on the day of the operation before surgery. If you have questions or concerns, be sure the anesthesiologist addresses all of your concerns.

Childbirth Medical Errors

Childbirth errors can have tragic results, harming both the mother and child. Birth injuries that may result from medical errors or medical malpractice include cerebral palsy, brain injuries, paralysis, and bone fractures.

Childbirth medical errors that can cause serious harm include:

  • Not anticipating possible pregnancy and birth complications.
  • Failure to diagnoses a medical condition or birth defect.
  • Failure to respond to fetal distress.
  • Not performing or delay in performing a cesarean section.
  • Incorrect use of vacuum extractors or forceps.

To ensure proper care during childbirth:

  • Seek regular prenatal care. Regular check-ups with your obstetrician and early detection of potential problems will help prevent complications. Be sure your doctor is carefully monitoring your health throughout your pregnancy.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Determine whether your selected medical professional is qualified to handle your birth. Are they skilled and experienced in handling birthing complications should they arise? Talk extensively with your obstetrician about your options and be well-prepared for delivery.

Lack of coordination between healthcare providers

In today’s medical world there are often multiple healthcare providers taking care of one patient. Communication and coordination are critical to the safe and successful treatment of a patient. A mistake in or lack of communicating can result in testing, treatment, medication, and other medical errors. Be sure your healthcare providers are all on the same page when it comes to your treatment.

Get help if you are the victim of medical errors

The most common contributing cause of medical errors is human error. A lack of training, fatigue, or simple carelessness can all contribute to medical errors. Charting and lab errors are common and can lead to patient injury. When there is a breach of duty on the part of a medical professional to provide competent care, it could be considered medical malpractice. If a medical error has injured you or someone you love, you need the help of medical malpractice attorney. A qualified medical error attorney can help when dealing with hospitals and their insurance company. The medical injury attorneys at Distasio & Kowalski can provide a free, confidential consultation. Our medical malpractice lawyers will work to determine if the injuries caused were due to medical negligence.  Contact a medical malpractice attorney at Distasio & Kowalski in Wilkes-Barre today.

 

Cerebral palsy is a lifelong and serious neurological disorder that is often caused by a lack of enough oxygen reaching an infant’s brain during labor or delivery. Head trauma before, during or shortly after birth can be a cause. While not all cases of cerebral palsy are caused by medical error, some certainly are. Medical errors or medical malpractice during labor or delivery can sometimes result in hypoxia, or insufficient oxygen to the brain, or asphyxia, which is insufficient oxygen to the body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that 85 to 90 percent of cerebral palsy cases are congenital, or occur before or during the birth.

Cerebral palsy impairs muscle coordination and body movement. Harmful side effects of cerebral palsy can include breathing problems, trouble swallowing, speech impediment, as well as vision and hearing problems. Other side effects include cognitive impairments, seizure disorder, learning disabilities, and inability to control the bladder or bowels and more. 1 in 323 babies in the U.S. is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This is according to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation.

Types of cerebral palsy

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy – The most common form of CP, it accounts for for 70-80% of cases. Symptoms include stiff and tight muscles. Those suffering from spastic cerebral palsy may have difficulty moving from one position to another. They may have trouble controlling muscles that are needed to perform tasks such as holding an object or speaking. Spasticity is due to damage to the motor cortex of the brain before, during or after birth.
  • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy – This form of CP is characterized by involuntary movements, such as twisting and repetitive movements, slow movements or unpredictable movements. It results from damage to the basal ganglia of the brain.
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – Ataxic is characterized by shaky movements that may appear disorganized or jerky, as well as a difficulty in maintaining balance. Ataxia causes an interruption of muscle control in the arms and legs, causing a lack of balance and coordination. It has an impact on the movements required for day-to-day activities. Ataxia results from damage to the cerebellum. 

Medical errors that may result in cerebral palsy

  • Failing to properly monitor the mother or infant before, during or after childbirth.
  • Failure to identify fetal distress by not properly monitoring the fetal heart rate during labor and delivery.
  • The medical mistake of failing to identify and properly treat infections in the mother during pregnancy.
  • Delayed diagnosis and treatment of maternal medical conditions or infections.
  • Failing to identify an umbilical cord prolapse, a birth complication that occurs prior to delivery. Prolapse is when the umbilical cord drops through the open cervix into the vagina ahead of the baby. It sometimes getting trapped against the baby’s body.
  • Medical errors regarding cesarean sections. This can include delaying a cesarean section needed due to an emergency or failing to perform a cesarean section in a high-risk pregnancy. Failing to perform a C-section when the baby is too large to deliver vaginally may also cause an injury. Medical mistakes relating to C-sections can lead to serious birth injuries.
  • Medical negligence in using medical instruments or equipment. This can include the improper use of forceps or vacuum during delivery.
  • Medication errors or the uses of medication that was inappropriate or dangerous for the mother or baby.
  • Inadequate monitoring of the mother and baby when anesthesia is used.
  • Medical diagnostic errors, such as incorrect reading of test results. 

Providing a child with cerebral palsy with the appropriate care can take a toll on a family, both financially and emotionally. Cerebral palsy often requires a lifetime of care. Costly rehab, therapy and home care, as well as other medical expenses can become burdensome to an already struggling family. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or is exhibiting symptoms of cerebral palsy, and you suspect medical malpractice, contact an experienced birth injury attorney today for help. 

The burden of proof in birth injury cases 

It’s hard to imagine that with just a single medical error, an infant’s life can be permanently harmed. The plaintiff has the burden of proof in a birth injury case. Therefore, a plaintiff must do more than just prove that a child suffers from cerebral palsy. A medical expert is needed to testify as to the specific cause of the disability. The medical expert will also determine whether it is a result of medical error or medical negligence. A doctor or hospital failing to provide the accepted standard of care may be a factor in a cerebral palsy birth injury. Responsible medical parties in a cerebral palsy medical malpractice case can include an OB-GYN, surgeon, doctor, nurse, hospital or healthcare clinic or others.

Statute of limitations in Pennsylvania cerebral palsy cases 

If you feel your child was the victim of medical negligence or has cerebral palsy as the result of a medical error you may be entitled to compensation for those injuries, as well as resulting medical treatment. It is not too late to hold the responsible medical providers accountable for their negligent actions. A statute of limitations establishes the deadline for filing a lawsuit. If the injured victim is a minor at the time the injury or accident occurred, such as in the event of a birth injury, the statute of limitations does not begin until the victim turns 18. An injured child or minor has 2 years to file a lawsuit after they turn 18.

If your baby has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and you believe that medical error or hospital error could have been the cause, you need to contact a medical malpractice lawyer. An experienced cerebral palsy birth injury lawyer can review the details of the case and help determine if medical negligence did cause your child’s birth injury. Medical errors leading to cerebral palsy can occur during pregnancy, labor and birth. They may also occur immediately following the birth of your baby.

Distasio & Kowalski medical malpractice lawyers

The birth injury lawyers at Distasio & Kowalski in Wilkes-Barre can help you to obtain the compensation you deserve. It is our goal to help your family overcome the lifelong difficulties associated with cerebral palsy or other birth injuries. This can include compensation for past and future medical expenses and caretaking costs, as well as for pain and suffering. We are a personal injury firm dedicated to getting injury victims the best possible legal results and holding medical professionals accountable for the harm they cause.

Read more on birth injuries and medical malpractice compensation on our website. Learn more about the early signs of cerebral palsy and screening on the CDC website.

It’s usually one of the happiest times of a couple’s lives. Expectant parents anxiously preparing and awaiting the birth of a new baby. Tragically, excitement can quickly turn to heartbreak for parents when something goes wrong and an infant is born injured or suffering in some way. It’s an important time to be sure you understand the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect. While this is a confusing time for new parents, filled with a mix of emotions, it is important to determine the cause of your baby’s suffering. Knowing the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect can be very important in determining if there was any medical negligence involved in harm caused to your baby. If there was negligence or a medical error, you may be eligible for compensation for those injuries and for ongoing medical treatment for your newborn.

What is a birth injury?

Birth injuries usually happen during or immediately after the labor and delivery process. Injuries could possibly result from excessive force or trauma during delivery. Birth injury may also result from failure to monitor the baby for fetal distress or from other medical errors or substandard care during or after the birthing process. This can include misdiagnoses or failure to diagnose potential complications during pregnancy and delivery. It may also include delayed C-section and mistakes involving forceps, vacuum or other birthing tools, among other medical errors. Unlike birth defects, birth injuries are preventable in many cases, depending on the circumstances. Right Diagnosis from healthgrades reported that 7 out of every 1,000 children born in the United States are born with birth injuries each year.

Some examples of birth injuries include:

  • Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy or HIE
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Erb’s Palsy
  • Brain damage
  • Head trauma
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis
  • Fractures

What is a birth defect?

Birth defects occur as a baby is still developing in the mother’s womb. That’s a main difference between a birth injury and a birth defect. Birth defects are medical conditions or abnormalities that could occur as a result of a variety of causes. This can include certain genetics, infections, exposure to chemicals or drugs, or possibly unhealthy lifestyle choice. Birth defects can have serious and lasting effects on a child.

Examples of birth defects can include disorders such as brain damage, Down syndrome, spina bifida, congenital heart defect, cleft lip or palate, limb or cranial abnormalities, and metabolic disorders. The CDC estimates that birth defects affect one in every 33 babies. This is about 3 percent of all of the babies born in the United Sates each year.

What to do when your infant suffers a birth injury

Sadly, birth injuries are far too common and can mean life-long health consequences for your child. Distasio, Kowalski & Yelen personal injury attorneys see the tragic effects that medical errors have on the lives of families in our area. Bringing a child into the world should be a joyous event. It should not be marred by substandard medical care. Doctor’s and other healthcare providers have a “duty of care” to uphold when treating patients. If they fail to provide that established standard of care, they can be held liable for injuries that occur. It’s time to call an injury attorney.

Getting legal help for birth injuries

We hope this helps you to better understand the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect. If you suspect that your newborn may have been injured as the result of medical negligence or a medical error, you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney. Although you are emotional and overwhelmed when you are dealing with a seriously injured child, you owe it to yourself and your family to determine the cause of the injuries. You want to hold the responsible party accountable. You also want to ensure that the long-term medical and emotional needs of your child are met. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to assess your situation and help you explore your legal options.

Medical negligence can lead to birth injury or the death of a child. A birth injury can affect the quality of life of a child, as well as an entire family, resulting in a lifetime of medical treatment and financial hardship. It’s imperative that an experienced birth injury attorney determines if your child is suffering from a preventable birth injury or unavoidable birth defect.

Statute of limitations for birth injury cases in Pennsylvania

The statute of limitations is a time period in which you can legally file your birth injury claim. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice suit is two years. However, when the patient is a minor, the Minor’s Tolling Statute allows for added time if the patient is under the age of 18. The two-year time limit would begin to run on the child’s 18th birthday.

For more information on your legal options in a birth injury case, contact the Wilkes-Barre personal injury lawyers at Distasio, Kowalski & Yelen toll free at 855-970-5400.