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

As our parents age, many of us are faced with the question of what to do with their assets. Should we encourage them to gift their house or other assets to us, their children? Should we make bank accounts joint with our parents? These are important questions to consider. It’s essential to seek the opinion of an estate planning attorney or elder law attorney before making any decisions. In this blog, we’ll explore the pros and cons of gifting assets and making bank accounts joint with children and explain why seeking professional advice from an experienced probate lawyer is crucial.

The Importance of Estate Planning and Elder Law

Elder law and estate planning are essential for ensuring your assets are protected and allocated in accordance with your wishes. Estate planning involves designing a plan to distribute your assets after your death, while elder law addresses the legal and financial issues that arise as we age. Estate attorneys and elder care lawyers can guide you in creating an in-depth plan that concentrates on your precise needs and goals. Furthermore, they can also advise you on the most effective ways to protect your assets and fulfill your wishes.

The Risks of Gifting Assets to Children

Many people consider gifting assets, such as their homes, to their children to avoid probate and reduce estate taxes. However, this strategy has significant risks. First, gifting assets to children means you no longer have control over those assets. Once the gift is made, it belongs to your children, who can do whatever they want. This can be problematic if your children are not financially responsible, get divorced, or face other legal issues. Additionally, gifting assets can have significant tax implications. If the value of the gift exceeds the annual gift tax exclusion, you may be subject to gift taxes. Consequently, if your children sell the gifted assets, they may be subject to capital gains taxes. 

The Risks of Joint Bank Accounts

Another common strategy for avoiding probate is to make bank accounts joint with children. While this may seem simple and convenient, it can also have significant risks. First, making a bank account joint with your children means they have equal access to the funds in that account. This can be problematic if your children are not financially responsible or face legal issues.

Additionally, making a bank account joint with your children can have tax implications. If the account earns interest, your children may be responsible for paying taxes on that interest, even if they do not withdraw the funds. In Pennsylvania, joint bank accounts are presumed to be right of survivorship, meaning that only those listed on the bank account with you will inherit the account. In other words, they will not pass according to your will. 

The Benefits of Seeking Professional Advice from an Estate Planning Attorney

Given the risks associated with gifting assets and making bank accounts joint with children, seeking professional advice from an estate planning attorney is essential. An experienced estate lawyer can help you better grasp the potential consequences of gifting assets and making bank accounts joint with children. Moreover, they can provide guidance on alternative strategies for safeguarding your assets and ensuring that your wishes are carried out. 

Alternative Strategies for Protecting Assets

There are several alternative strategies for protecting your assets that do not involve gifting assets or making bank accounts joint with children. These include:

  • Trusts: A trust is a legal arrangement in which a trustee holds and manages assets on behalf of a beneficiary. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. They can protect assets from creditors, avoid probate, and reduce estate taxes. A trust attorney can provide guidance.
  • Life Estate Deeds: A life estate deed is a legal document that permits you to transfer ownership of your property to your children while retaining the right to live in the property for the rest of your life. This approach can help you avoid probate and reduce estate taxes.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance can help preserve your assets if you require long-term care. This type of insurance may cover the expenses of nursing home care, assisted living, and in-home care. 

The Role of Estate Lawyers and Elder Law Attorneys

Estate planning lawyers and elder law attorneys play a vital role in assisting individuals and families interested in protecting their assets and ensure that their wishes are carried out. In particular, they can provide guidance on the best strategies for protecting assets, reducing inheritance and estate taxes, and accomplishing your estate goals.

Estate planning and elder law lawyers can also help you create a comprehensive plan that addresses your specific needs and goals. They can provide counsel on the best ways to protect your assets and ensure that your wishes are carried out. 


As our parents age, it’s natural to want to safeguard their assets and ensure that their wishes are carried out. However, gifting assets and making bank accounts joint with children can have significant risks and tax implications. It’s essential to seek skillful advice from an estate planning attorney before making any decisions. To clarify, an elder care lawyer can help you understand the potential outcome of gifting assets and making bank accounts joint with children and provide guidance on alternative strategies for protecting your assets.

By working with an experienced trust attorney or elder lawyer, you can create a comprehensive plan that addresses your specific wishes. One that ensures that your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes.

Contact a DKY Elder Law Attorney Near Me

Contact The Distasio, Kowalski & Yelen Law Firm (DKY Law) if you are looking for an “estate attorney near me” or for a Pennsylvania estate attorney or Wilkes-Barre estate lawyer.

Tap to learn more about Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning.


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.

In healthcare, diagnoses serve as the cornerstone of treatment and recovery. They guide medical interventions, shape patient journeys, and ultimately determine outcomes. Yet, what happens when these medical diagnoses miss the mark? Diagnostic errors are a silent yet profound threat to individuals and families. Diagnostic errors occur when a diagnosis is missed, wrong, or delayed, leading to severe patient consequences. Medical misdiagnosis and other diagnostic errors can stem from many factors, including misinterpretation of symptoms, flawed testing processes, communication breakdowns among healthcare providers, and even systemic issues within healthcare systems.

Research Concludes Burden of Serious Harm from Diagnostic Errors

An article first published on July 17, 2023, and updated on August 8, 2023, by BMJ Quality & Safety sheds light on the staggering burden of serious harms resulting from diagnostic errors. The study aimed to estimate the annual US burden of serious misdiagnosis-related harms. The findings by BMJ Quality, which were also reported in Johns Hopkins Medicine, are sobering, concluding that diagnostic errors contribute to a significant portion of adverse events in healthcare settings.

According to the original research of BMJ Quality, Burden of serious harms from diagnostic error in the USA, it was concluded that “an estimated 795,000 Americans die or are permanently disabled by diagnostic error each year, making it the single largest source of serious harms from medical mistakes.” The results suggest that diagnostic error is probably “the single largest source of death across all care settings linked to medical error.” These errors can occur in any healthcare setting, including emergency departments, primary care clinics, specialty care clinics, and inpatient settings.

According to the BMJ Quality research, Diagnostic error or medical misdiagnosis of just 15 diseases accounted for about half of all severe harm. The research found that diagnostic errors involving the ‘Big Three’ categories together – infection, vascular, and cancer – accounted for 50% of the serious harms. Among these, five conditions were linked to the largest number of serious harms. They included stroke misdiagnosis, sepsis, pneumonia, venous thromboembolism (blood clot in a vein), and lung cancer.

The Human Toll of Medical Misdiagnosis

Behind these study numbers lies a far more poignant narrative—the human toll of diagnostic errors. Beyond the statistics are individuals and families grappling with the aftermath of misdiagnoses. It’s a narrative of silent suffering, where patients endure unnecessary pain, complications, and even loss of life due to diagnostic errors. Often, a family is left grappling with unanswered questions and unspoken grief.

A medical misdiagnosis, a delayed diagnosis, or a healthcare professional’s failure to diagnose can result in severe consequences for a patient. This can include serious injury caused by a worsening condition or the tragic loss of life. Diagnostic errors can result in delayed treatment, incorrect treatment, incorrect medication, or missed preventative measures. This can all lead to a worsening of a patient’s condition. In the event of a severe illness, diagnostic errors can be life-threatening.

If you or a family member has suffered harm from medical misdiagnosis or another diagnostic error, consult with a skilled medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will closely examine the facts and evaluate your case. An experienced diagnostic error attorney can help you seek compensation for injury caused by medical misdiagnosis. This might include medical bills, long-term care expenses, rehab, loss of wages, and pain and suffering.

Schedule a Consultation Today

It’s time to move beyond the numbers and unveil the human toll of diagnostic errors. If you’ve suffered physical or emotional harm due to a diagnostic error, contact a medical misdiagnosis attorney at Distasio, Kowalski & Yelen, LLC today. Our experienced DKY medical malpractice attorneys will meet with you to discuss if negligence on the part of your healthcare provider caused harm. In the event of medical malpractice, there are steps we can help you take to get the justice you deserve. Tap to contact DKY for a no-obligation case evaluation.