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Florida Delayed Diagnosis of Fetal Distress Lawyers

The medical malpractice team at Freedland Harwin Valori, PL specializes in many types of birth injuries. In our years of experience, we’ve helped many distraught parents seek justice for infant injuries due to the malpractice of obstetricians, nurses, and other parties. Delayed diagnosis of fetal distress is one of the areas we handle. This is a serious medical mistake that deserves attention from skilled attorneys.

Medical professionals sometimes use the term “fetal distress” or hypoxia to describe the condition where the baby isn’t getting enough oxygen. Intrauterine hypoxia, or failure to get enough oxygen in the womb, can happen due to a number of reasons including; hyper-stimulation of the uterus (too strong or too frequent contractions), umbilical cord complications or significant placental infarction.  Electronic Fetal Monitoring  (EFM) is one of the most common ways to detect fetal distress.  Delayed recognition of fetal distress can result in hypoxia-related brain damage or death of the infant where appropriate action is not taken.

About Fetal Monitoring

Throughout a woman’s pregnancy, obstetricians and Gynecologists (OB/GYNs) should monitor the mother carefully for signs of problems, concerns, or potential issues. When a mother arrives at the hospital or birthing center to deliver the baby, appropriate monitoring is an essential part of patient care. The most commonly used technology is an electronic fetal monitoring system (EFM).

Electronic fetal monitoring can often involve equipment such as a band wrapped around the mother’s belly that detects the fetal heart rate (FHR) prior to delivery. It also tracks the mother’s contractions and the corresponding response of the baby’s FHR to those contractions must be evaluated. Monitoring FHR carefully can show obstetricians warning signs of fetal distress, such as certain types of “decelerations” (slowing of the FHR) and a lack of “variability” in the FHR. Many systems will print a fetal monitor strip and/or show the FHR on a screen to track its progress. It is when nurses -or sometimes doctors- fail to recognize or fail to react to these signs that dangerous fetal distress can go undetected, resulting in hypoxic brain injury to the baby due to a lack of oxygen.

A competent nurse or medical professional must detect fetal distress and take action to remedy the situation, including turning off Pitocin/Oxytocin, administering a fluid bolus, changing the position of mother, giving medication to stop contractions, temporarily giving oxygen, calling the obstetrician or preparing for an emergency cesarean section surgery. Failure to properly monitor FHR and contractions, failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis of fetal distress, or failure to take appropriate emergency action to prevent further harm to the child are all malpractice. Failure to treat fetal distress immediately when action is warranted could result in brain damage due to hypoxia as well as fetal death.

Who Is Liable?

A few different parties could hold or share liability for delayed diagnosis of fetal distress. Determining the defendant, or party allegedly responsible for your harms, takes assessing the proximate (main) cause of you or your child’s harms. You must look at which parties owed you a duty of care, breached this duty, and caused the incident. Parties potentially liable mainly include:

  1. Obstetrical nurses that failed to monitor FHR and contractions, recognize fetal distress in time, failed to take steps to correct fetal distress, failed to call the doctor in time or failed to prepare for and administer emergency care.
  2. Obstetricians that failed to monitor FHR and contractions, failed to diagnose fetal distress or failed to perform emergency procedures such as a C-section when needed.

In many cases, hospital staff members ignore alarms from fetal monitors, resulting in the harmful or deadly delay in fetal distress diagnosis. This could come down to the liability of the hospital or birthing center itself. Don’t go up against major hospitals in Florida on your own. After something goes wrong before, during, or after labor and delivery, contact us for a free legal consultation. We can help you seek justice for your child.

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