Improper Fetal Monitoring and Birth Injury

During labor and delivery, it is the job of the nurse and obstetrician to monitor a baby’s health. This job is crucial and can help identify any potential threats or even fetal distress. Fetal heart rate monitoring is vital, and errors are unacceptable.

Any errors with infant fetal monitoring can be the cause of long-term injuries and even death. It can be devastating to your family, so protecting yourself is half the battle. Let’s take a look at the details of fetal monitoring, where errors happen, and what you can do about it.

Understanding the Importance of Fetal Monitoring

Fetal heart rate is a crucial part of understanding how a child’s health is at the moment. Certain heart rate ranges can indicate the current status of an unborn baby. Different organizations have different measures, but there are common ones used in the US.

At six weeks, your baby’s heart will start to beat, and you will likely monitor a heart rate of 90 to 110 beats per minute (bpm). It can peak by week 9, and the accepted international range is at 110 to 160 bpm. This range is safe in daily practice and can act as a good baseline.

At under 110 bpm, we can classify this as a slow fetal heart rate, known as bradycardia. Fetal bradycardia is a potential sign of miscarriage. If the fetal heart rate is very low during the first seven weeks, the risk for miscarriage increases.

Transient bradycardia can occur, so you need subsequent checkups to confirm the matter. If your doctor misses observing this risk, this can be a sign of medical malpractice. If fetal bradycardia continues unchecked, it can prove fatal to you or your unborn child.

On the other side, having a fetal heart rate of more than 160 bpm can come from tachycardia. Fetal tachycardia can be a symptom of many things in the mother’s body. It can be anything from maternal ketosis, anxiety, anticholinergic medication to maternal fever.

Treating Erratic Fetal Heart Rate

If a baby has an issue with their heart rate and is not close to term, the likely solution is to screen them. Most medical professionals would need to screen for intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). They would also need to check for complications that can cut on the flow of oxygen to the baby.

Most medical professionals will submit the mother to a battery of tests to evaluate the situation. Biophysical profile (BPP) will occur to check on many things on the baby, which includes:

  • Breathing
  • Heart rate
  • Muscle tone
  • Movement
  • Amniotic fluid levels

BPP includes a nonstress test with fetal heart rate monitoring and likely a fetal ultrasound. The mother can also undergo Doppler velocimetry to check on the placental blood flow. She will also undergo maternal tests to check on potential uteroplacental circulation problems.

Fetal Heart Rate During Labor

During labor itself, fetal heart rate will be under constant monitoring. This intensive care is to see if the baby can handle the contractions. If the baby’s heart rate during this time is too fast, too slow, or too erratic, the baby is experiencing distress.

During labor, extensive tachycardia, bradycardia, or late returns to the baseline is unsafe. These can come under the consideration of “non-reassuring,” which means the baby is not receiving enough oxygen. The child, if not delivered soon, can suffer asphyxia.

The sole purpose of fetal heart rate monitoring is to help the medical staff identify potential fetal distress. When it happens, the staff would need to take swift and proper action. If the healthcare provider ignores, misunderstands, or is unable to catch the problem, it can result in birth injuries.

Birth injuries that cause non-reassuring heart rates are too many to count. Some include:

  • Uterine tachysystole
  • Uterine rupture
  • Cephalopelvic disproportion
  • Umbilical cord problems
  • Macrosomia
  • Breech
  • Nuchal cord

Any of these can cause significant injuries to the child. If your medical practitioner does not catch these problems, then they are liable for medical malpractice.

Why Bad Fetal Monitoring Leads to Malpractice

Fetal monitoring is a crucial procedure that needs the utmost attention from your medical practitioners. Any monitoring errors that come from your healthcare professionals can lead to devastating results. It can lead to birth injuries and even the death of your baby.

If you think you are the victim of medical malpractice that caused the injury or death of your child, talk to a birth injury lawyer today. Consult on the actions that you can take to get reparations. There’s no monetary value to your grief, but justified compensation can help make it less agonizing.

Have a chat with a trusted birth injury lawyer from The Clark Law Office on the options open to you.

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