Kernicterus is a preventable medical disorder that occurs when doctors do not diagnose and treat yellow jaundice properly. It’s a common misconception that jaundice is harmless in newborns – if left untreated, it can lead to serious and permanent health complications. If your baby has kernicterus, seek help from our Philadelphia Kernicterus med mal lawyers at Anapol Weiss. Chances are, your child has been the victim of medical malpractice in Philadelphia.
Anapol Weiss cares deeply about the well-being of Philadelphia’s children. We know what the medical industry expects from its practitioners. Any deviation from accepted standards of care, resulting in injury, is medical malpractice. Let our Kernicterus attorneys fight for justice for your child. Call (866) 735-2792 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
Kernicterus, or hyperbilirubinemia, is a high level of bilirubin in an infant. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that results from the body getting rid of old red blood cells. This pigment is what gives infants a yellow look in their skin, or jaundice. During pregnancy, the baby’s liver must remove bilirubin on its own for the first time. In some infants, the liver may not be able to efficiently dispose of bilirubin, leading to too much of the substance building up within the body.
While some levels of bilirubin are harmless, high levels can lead to the bilirubin moving out of the blood and collecting in brain tissues. In turn, this can cause brain damage called kernicterus. Typically, kernicterus develops within the first week after an infant’s birth. Parents may notice symptoms such as:
- Extreme jaundice
- Poor feeding
- Excessive sleepiness
- Low muscle tone
- No startle reflex
- High-pitched cry
A baby in the late stages of kernicterus may exhibit stupor, coma, no feeding, shrill cry, muscle rigidity, and seizures. Blood tests will show bilirubin levels greater than 20–25 mg/dL. Treatment for kernicterus includes phototherapy (light therapy) and transfusions. Transfusions entail doctors replacing the infant’s blood with fresh donor blood. If not treated in time, infants with late-stage kernicterus can suffer permanent brain damage, hearing loss, or death.
Kernicterus and Medical Malpractice in Philadelphia
Doctors may not be able to prevent jaundice, but they can prevent kernicterus. Competent health care professionals can detect severe jaundice and take appropriate action to treat the condition before it develops into kernicterus. Treating conditions that may lead to kernicterus can also prevent this problem. After leaving the hospital, all newborns attend a follow-up appointment within two to three days. Doctors should measure bilirubin levels within the first signs of jaundice and screen for diseases that involve the death of red blood cells.
Failure to properly detect and treat jaundice before it develops into kernicterus may constitute medical malpractice. Failure to treat kernicterus before it causes permanent brain damage may also be malpractice. Kernicterus can lead to a condition called athetoid cerebral palsy. If your child has been diagnosed with this condition, consider whether kernicterus may have been the cause. If so, you may have a medical malpractice case on your hands. Kernicterus can cause vision problems, issues with teeth, and intellectual disabilities.
Contact Our Kernicterus Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today
No infant should develop brain damage from severe jaundice. Medical professionals have the power to detect and manage jaundice to prevent kernicterus. Failure to do so is often due to negligence, carelessness, or recklessness. If your child suffers from this preventable condition, please speak to the attorneys at Anapol Weiss. Our birth injury lawyers can analyze the details of your case and decide whether it has merit as a medical malpractice lawsuit. If it does, we’ll fight by your side for the compensation your child deserves.