Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) can potentially cause blindness. Sometimes following a premature birth, there is a disruption in the normal development of the blood vessels in the eye as the baby’s eyes continue to develop outside of the womb. This can lead to abnormal blood vessel growth, bleeding and scar tissue. In certain instances, blood vessels can stick to the retina and detach it. When the retina detaches from the eye, the child loses sight permanently.
Sadly, ROP is on the rise, due to the increasing number of preterm births (1 in 8 children are preemies) and a new set of screening criteria that calls for more infants to be screened more frequently. Approximately 14,000-16,000 infants are diagnosed with Retinopathy of Prematurity per year, according to the National Institutes of Health, and several hundred will be blinded as a result of the condition.
Most mothers who went into premature labor have never heard of ROP.
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) Lawyer
If your child’s blindness or severe visual impairment was the result of a preventable birth injury or medical malpractice, attorney Jeffrey Killino and his legal team will work to make sure those responsible for their negligence are held accountable, and to ensure that your family has access to the compensation needed to meet your child’s physical, educational and emotional needs for the rest of their life.
As well, economists and life-care planning consultants and all other necessary experts are consulted to provide detailed projections for the right amount of compensation to meet your financial needs and your child’s future.
ROP is Preventable
The majority of ROP cases are believed to have been preventable, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Unfortunately, many doctors do not take necessary actions to prevent ROP from causing blindness in newborns. In these tragic circumstances, the attending doctors in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can and should be held fully liable for their medical negligence.
Be pro-active. If your child has not been screened for ROP, request a screening immediately. Time is of the essence because ROP can develop and advance very quickly. For some children, two to three screenings per week will be necessary.
Legal Liability for Retinopathy Injuries
ROP can be caused by the negligence of medical personnel following the child’s birth. The standard of care requires that premature babies be evaluated for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and if required, surgery be quickly undertaken to prevent the ROP from causing blindness.
If a baby loses his or her vision because the doctors, nurses or midwives failed to properly diagnose or treat the condition, then the baby’s parents can file a claim for medical malpractice. There are a number of mistakes that can constitute negligence, from missing early warning signs to mixing up the charts to choosing not to perform surgery despite recognizing the signs of ROP – and more. If any of these mistakes happened, you are entitled to compensation for the permanent harm caused to your child.
Who is Responsible?
Besides the above, it should be the responsibility of the ophthalmologist to perform ROP rounds as required by the neonatologist, and the NICU/nursery/hospital to keep a list of those babies who are candidates for developing ROP, including the date of the initial ROP exam.
ROP Risk Factors
The two main risk factors are low birth weight and preterm infants. ROP was once thought to be associated with too much oxygen in infants’ incubators. Since the 1980s, it was not the sole cause: Too little oxygen can also lead to problems. Besides oxygen issues, there are also avoidable and preventable factors that contribute to the severity and progression of ROP, including:
- Asphyxia (lack of oxygen)
- Hypothermia (low body temperature)
- Acidosis (increased acid in the blood)
- Vitamin E deficiency
- Apnea (irregular breathing)
- Heart disease
- Respiratory disease
- Low heart rate (bradycardia)
- Blood transfusions
- Low blood oxygen or acidity
- High amounts of carbon dioxide in the blood
The only way to test for retinopathy of prematurity is with an eye exam, which may be performed as early as four weeks after birth. The scheduling of these eye exams is based on many factors, including the degree of prematurity. If the exams are not performed at the specified times, then irreversible injuries can occur.
If your baby’s doctors failed to timely diagnose or treat Retinopathy of Prematurity, and your child is now struggling with impaired vision or total blindness, you should seek legal help, and sooner rather than later. While many medical malpractice attorneys may accept your case, birth injury attorney Jeff Killino and his legal team focus on children suffering from Retinopathy of prematurity. And they know how to work with parents struggling with this trauma.
Call now for a free consultation, so you can find out if you have a potential case. If there is merit to your child’s claim, the Killino Law Firm will consult with leading medical professionals and experts in Retinopathy of prematurity to ensure a successful outcome.