Birth Injury: Improper Monitoring and Delay in Delivery

Many people think that medical malpractice occurs when a doctor operates on the wrong part of a patient or incorrectly doses a patient, but more often, medical malpractice is subtle and occurs due to a failure to properly monitor a patient.

If you or a loved one has experienced medical malpractice due to improper monitoring, especially during the birthing experience, contact Pope & Howard, medical malpractice attorneys specializing in birth injuries, about next steps. Our compassionate team is here to help you get the help you need.

What is Improper Monitoring?

Improper monitoring, or failure to monitor, means that the medical professional (nurses or doctors) failed to correctly identify an issue in monitoring the health of the patient, which resulted in pain, injury, or even death.

Doctors and nurses should be regularly assessing their patient(s), looking for signs of good health, and noting and acting when a sign of poor health occurs. Some of this monitoring might include:

  • Heart rate
  • Fetal heart rate
  • Oxygen rate (O2)
  • Respirations per minute
  • Pain level
  • Levels of certain substances in the blood (ex. Glucose)
  • Consciousness & temperament of the patient
  • Temperature
  • Bowel movements
  • Fluid intake
  • And more

If the doctors and nurses are assessing these regularly and thoroughly, they’ll know if an issue begins and what actions to take to correct it.

Types of Problems Related to Improper Monitoring During Birth

Labor and birth are when assessment and monitoring are incredibly vital, because both the health and the mother and the fetus are at stake. When not assessed regularly or acted upon, the following can occur:

Failure to Monitor Fetal Heart Rate

Fetal heart rate is a top indicator of fetal health during a delivery. If a fetus’s heart rate drops too low during the labor process, a vacuum or forceps delivery might be ordered, or for sharply decreasing heart rates, a c-section. If not monitored effectively or acted on quickly, a fetus left too long in the birth canal with a decreasing heart rate can experience a decrease in oxygen, which can result in cerebral palsy, brain defects, or even death.

And, because fetal heartrates are often monitored by machines through electronic fetal monitoring, it is crucial that nurses and doctors regularly check that the machine is working correctly, is detecting the heart rate with correct positioning, and is accurate.

Failure to Monitor Fetal Movement

Just like a fetal heart rate, fetal movement is crucial to the health of a baby. Decreased fetal movement can be caused by insufficient fluid in the placenta, placental abruption, or nuchal cord, which is when the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck. If the doctor or nurse suspects decreased fetal movement, quick and efficient action is necessary to prevent injury or death.

Failure to Perform Frequent Vaginal Exams

During labor, proper dilation and effacement of the cervix permits safe delivery without injury to the fetus or the mother. That’s why it’s important for the doctor to perform regular vaginal exams to check the condition of the cervix.

During vaginal exams, the doctor is able to check for:

  • Birth-ready position of the baby
  • Condition of the cervix (dilation, effacement or thinness, and position)
  • Station, or where the baby is in relation to the pelvis

These exams help the doctor recognize if birth is happening too quickly (which can cause harm to the mother), too slowly (harm to the mother and fetus), if the baby is in a difficult position, such as breach, along with many other conditions. If not assessed regularly, the mother and baby can experience harm.

Contact Pope and Howard for Birth Related Injuries in Atlanta, GA

If you or a loved one has experienced birth related harm due to failure to monitor at the hands of a medical professional, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Pope & Howard in Atlanta, GA. We can help you build a case to seek just compensation.

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