When a baby has a brain injury, for some parents the question becomes would a C-section have changed things. Add to that, for some mothers who did have a C-section and the baby has a brain injury, the question becomes, was the C-section performed in time? These questions hit on an important area of analysis when looking for answers following a birth injury.
In this Maryland birth injury article, I am going to explain some of the areas of analysis from a medical/legal standpoint when a baby has a brain injury at birth and the role a C-section, or untimely C-section may have in cases such as these. As a reminder, all cases are not the same and the facts have to be assessed accordingly.
WHY DOES THE FETAL HEART MONITOR MATTER?
When parents are told that their baby has suffered a brain injury at birth, the next question that may follow (after “is my baby going to be ok?”) is how did this happen, or how could this happen? There are multiple things which can cause a baby to have a brain injury at birth. For the purpose of this article, I am not assuming that the injury is due to genetics or some other developmental issue. This article will touch on the actions, or inaction of the medical providers during labor and delivery, which can contribute to when your baby has a brain injury.
During labor and delivery, there is an important tool called the electronic fetal heart monitor that is used to help determine fetal well-being. When a baby’s well-being is compromised, this could be possible evidence of fetal distress. The monitor is reviewing your baby’s heart rate, among other things. When the monitor reveals certain things, doctors and nurses must act accordingly. For example, if late decelerations are present, coupled with other factors such as a low heart rate (bradycardia), doctors need to be on alert for possible fetal distress.
When helping a family find answers in cases like these, the actions based on the readings of the fetal heart monitor are always important for review. This is because the monitor results, and the medical records, can give a good feel of what may have been happening in the labor and delivery room at the time. Side note, if you are thinking of requesting the medical records follow your baby’s birth injury, be sure to have the hospital turn over the readings from the fetal heart monitor. In some instances, these records are not in the initial patient request (be sure to check to see if yours are included in your request).
BABY HAS A BRAIN INJURY DOES C-SECTION VS. VAGINAL DELIVERY MATTER?
As one mother told us, “my doctor said I was doing fine and that I could just bear down and continue the vaginal delivery.” I started the above discussion explaining the importance of the fetal heart monitor. The truth of the matter is that if your baby is in fetal distress, and is not properly diagnosed and treated, a brain injury can occur. An emergency C-section might be the way to go when all the previous conservative treatments are not working, and the baby is sliding further down the path to serious injury.
Doctors must abandon the vaginal delivery when danger is presented to the baby in this instance. How we can see this is doctors fail to diagnose that the baby is in fetal distress (this can be due to the improper interpretation of the fetal heart monitor) and as a result, the baby runs out of fetal reserves and suffers a brain injury. In addition, in some cases, the labor and delivery nurse will not notify the doctor of problems due to their improper interpretation of the fetal heart readings and not notify the doctor of problems until too late.
HAS YOUR BABY BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH HYPOXIC ISCHEMIC ENCEPHALOPATHY (HIE)?
When a baby has a brain injury and has been diagnosed with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) that generally raises flags for parents and leads them to reach out to us for help. HIE, in this context is a reduced level of blood and oxygen getting to your baby which leads to a brain injury. Blood and oxygen problems can sometimes be present during labor and therefore the fetal heart monitor reveals problems. During these times, doctors must act and help the baby because if no action is taken, or the wrong action is taken, the baby can suffer a brain injury.
To speak with me further pick up the phone and call me. I can be reached at 301-850-4832. I listen to families all the time tell me when their baby has a brain injury and I would be happy to talk with you too.
Marcus B. Boston, Esq.
Boston Law Group, LLC
2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815
1-833-4 BABY HELP