Having a baby should be a joyful experience. However, errors in labor and delivery and prenatal care can send a newborn to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (“NICU”) instead of the nursery, and having a baby admitted to NICU can be frightening and heartbreaking for parents. Sadly, these emotions become real for many parents because NICU errors occur far too often. NICU mistakes lead to increased danger and pain for their newborn.
Research indicates that 1 in every 1,000 deliveries in the United States has a birth injury—about 28,000 injured babies every year. Studies also show that many traumatic births and injuries to newborns could have been potentially avoided.
NICU PARENTS ALERT
Was there something about the baby’s delivery that just didn’t seem right? Perhaps there was a rushed C-section or the baby was born blue and not crying. Maybe the delivery seemed smooth, but you have questions about why the baby ended up in the NICU. Medical errors during the prenatal care, labor and delivery or even in the NICU might be the cause of the baby’s condition and long term disabilities.
Parents have many questions about the reasons for the NICU admission and what issues their newborn will face. Medical professionals, especially in a busy unit like the NICU, can seem unapproachable. In large hospitals, a complex team of experienced providers and trainees may be confusing and parents may find themselves overwhelmed by the amount of medical information thrown at them.
If you don’t understand your baby’s diagnoses, if you feel like your concerns are being brushed off and you aren’t getting answers during these uncertain times, our doctor/lawyer team will confidentially review the medical records from start to finish. We will provide answers at no cost or obligation to you.
Why did my baby arrive in NICU?
No parent wants to believe their baby was the victim of medical malpractice, but errors, mistakes and missteps– from the prenatal period to the labor and delivery to actually in NICU– could be the cause of your baby’s condition and the real reason your baby is needing neonatal intensive care.
Certain medical errors made by obstetricians and other medical professionals during delivery can lead to serious, life-long injury to the baby or the mother.
Prenatal and Labor and Delivery Errors
One of the most common causes of brain injury in NICU babies is lack of oxygen, and a premature baby is the most common reason for a NICU admission. Brain damage can also result from botched labor and delivery. Respiratory Distress Syndrome caused by a medical error is another leading reason why a baby arrives in NICU and sepsis or infection (that can occur prenatal or during labor and delivery or in NICU), is the most common reason for neonatal deaths. Here are some of the more common errors and possible injury outcomes:
Failure to detect or monitor problems with fetal vitals:
A common cause of injury at birth is a lack of oxygen, or birth asphyxia, to the baby’s brain.
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation to the brain (hypoxia) and/or a reduction or restriction of blood flow in the brain (ischemia). HIE is the most common cause of seizures in a newborn.
- Neonatal encephalopathy (NE) is a brain injury that occurs when neonates experience brain dysfunction shortly after birth.
- Delay in recognizing problems with fetal heart rate
- Misinterpretation of fetal heart monitoring strips
- Failure to monitor fetal heart rate (tachycardia, bradycardia, late decelerations)
- Failure to respond to a non-reassuring or ominous fetal heart rate
Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood. The CDC estimates that one in 345 children have cerebral palsy, and half of those have some type of co-occuring condition such as epilepsy, causing recurring seizures. Many of these cases are the result of medical mistakes during labor and delivery.
Failure to detect abnormal fetal development (eg., Intrauterine growth restriction/ fetal growth restriction (IUGR), reduced fetal growth/small for gestational age, or detect macrosomia (large for gestational age). In some instances intervention or even earlier delivery is warranted to reduce the adverse affects on the fetus.
Failure to detect oligohydramnios (low amniotic fluid), polyhydramnios (excessive amniotic fluid), or fetal hydrops/mirror syndrome (fluid in the fetus);
Failure to Diagnose Potential Birth Complications (e.g., baby’s head too big, breach baby):
- Erb’s palsy,
- Shoulder dystocia
Erb’s Palsy is a complication that results from damage to the brachial plexus nerves, and it affects about 1 out of 1,000 newborns. It’s usually caused during birth when a baby’s neck is stretched too far to the side. These nerves are located in the neck and control the movement and sensation of arms, shoulders, hands, and fingers. When the nerve is damaged, it usually results in a weakness of the arms, and those suffering from it may not be able to move or feel sensation from their arms at all.
Before delivery, if a baby’s size or position is abnormal, manual procedures to help reposition the baby are typically required, or a c-section is ordered.
Failure to order a timely C- Section (e.g., too much time from water breaking to delivery and baby in stress):
- Cerebral palsy,
- Brain damage
Incorrect Medication or Incorrect Dose (e.g., oxytocin to induce labor not monitored, or pain med such as morphine given incorrect dose)
Failure to identify and/or treat Infection
- Infection (e.g. E coli or STDs) not properly treated during pregnancy through delivery,
- Mother develops an infection or fever during labor,
- Infections transferred to baby such as Meningitis, Encephalitis
Delayed Delivery can cause Birth Asphyxia – lack of oxygen during birth process—and can result in the baby requiring NICU care. Here are other common medical errors that can occur during delivery:
- Delay in performing a caesarian section
- Failure to respond to signs of fetal distress, including an emergency c -section
- Mistakes during breech delivery
Mistakes made during assisted delivery, including wrong delivery tool and complications from forceps or vacuum extractor:
- Intracranial or cerebral hemorrhage,
- Brain damage,
- Facial Paralysis
Incorrect or Improper Delivery Techniques (e.g. pressing or pulling too much during delivery):
- Pulling or twisting on baby’s head or neck, causing brachial plexus injury (far too common)
- Spinal cord injuries caused by pulling or twisting baby’s torso
- Brain damage,
- Erb’s palsy,
- Shoulder dystocia
If improperly managed, any of the above conditions can result in serious, lifelong conditions, including HIE, cerebral palsy, seizures disorders, periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), and developmental disabilities.
Here are some things to consider about the labor and delivery that may indicate any of the medical mistakes above occurred:
- How often was the doctor/midwife in the room?
- How often was the nurse at your bedside?
- How many other patients were they attending to?
- How long was the labor?
- Was the nurse calling the doctor?
- Was the doctor responding?
- Was there a sudden rush to deliver by C-section
Labor and Delivery malpractice claims often raise complex medical and legal questions, and require representation by lawyers with in-depth knowledge and extensive birth injury and medical malpractice trial experience.
It’s vitally important that you know if the baby at birth was crying; was he pale or blue; was she breathing normally and independently? If not the latter, did she need resuscitation? Do you remember whether your newborn received cooling treatment? Was there any seizure activity? The hospital or hospital system might have failed your baby. If that is the case, they are likely not going to tell you what really happened.
There are many reasons why a newborn requires neonatal intensive care. Some babies stay a few days in NICU, others need months of specialized care from doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and others working in the NICU, carefully monitory feeding tubes and ventilators and more.
Errors Made in NICU: After Birth/Delivery
Despite specialized training that NICU professionals have, medical malpractice errors can occur while babies are in the NICU. Any medical error can have grave consequences and can potentially change the life of the victim and family forever. Sadly, mistakes in NICU are compounded because they affect newborns and their parents.
Birth injury lawyer Jeffrey Killino is an experienced medical malpractice attorney. He knows how to thoroughly investigate NICU injuries and he will work tenaciously to identify the causes of newborn injuries and deaths and to identify liable parties.
Just one mistake or error in NICU can forever impact a baby’s health and wellbeing. What at first seems like a slight misstep can have serious consequences, such as permanent brain damage. If a doctor or nurse made a mistake during labor and delivery, they may not share that error with you. After all, they don’t want to be accused of malpractice or negligence.
Common NICU Errors – What Can Go Wrong in NICU
- Hypoxia – restriction of oxygen
- Oxygen desaturation
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE): brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation
- Delayed and mistreated infections
- Hospital –acquired infections such as MRSA and bacterial infections
- Hypoxic brain injury from desaturations not adequately responded
- Diagnostic Errors
- Treatment or Surgical Errors
Other NICU errors can include:
- Mistakenly positioned feeding tubes, central lines, and IVs
- Failure to quickly diagnose and treat neonatal hypoglycemia
- Failure to treat seizures
- Failure to timely diagnose and treat hypothermia
- Failure to treat infections
- Equipment issues, such as monitor and ventilation errors
- Medication errors
- Feeding tube errors
Every parent hopes their baby will make a full recovery, but what if they don’t?
Here some things to consider about the future:
- Will your baby have long term disabilities?
- Will your baby need therapies?
- Will your baby need extra medical care?
- Will your baby need extra support?
- Will your baby need extra help in school?
- Will you be able to provide all your baby needs?
- Will you be able to afford all your baby’s care?
Protect your baby by having our doctor/lawyer team confidentially review the medical records from start to finish.
Doctors and nurses should be held accountable for their mistakes and negligence. We are committed to fighting tirelessly on behalf of injured infants and their parents. We work closely with a team of medical experts who will help conduct a complete analysis of the birth reports to help us determine the cause of injury. In the event that negligence was displayed, we are committed to fighting exhaustedly to ensure you and your child receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to.
NICU Baby Help
During these uncertain times, your baby needs protecting and parents need answers. Our doctor/lawyer team will confidentially review the medical records from start to finish. We will provide answers at no cost or obligation to you.
Child/birth injury lawyer Jeffrey Killino has recovered millions of dollars for injured and disabled babies and children throughout the state and the country. With a focus on just these types of matters, the Firm has the resources and experience to make sure your baby receives justice.
If your child is (or was) in NICU and you suspect negligence may have been displayed, you are entitled to seek and recover compensation for your losses. To schedule a free, private consultation with one of our attorneys who cares about your circumstances, please contact us today.
We will listen to the details of your individual circumstances, thoroughly evaluate your claim, and fight aggressively to ensure you obtain the full amount of compensation you need and deserve.