Fetal distress can take many forms and can occur for many reasons. While doctors can’t always prevent fetal distress, they should be able to detect and resolve the problem before it escalates into serious injury or death. Many children with cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and developmental delays developed these conditions from delayed treatment or failure to diagnose fetal distress. If you experienced delayed or misdiagnosis of fetal distress, the lawyers at Anapol Weiss want to help.
What Is Fetal Distress?
Fetal distress has no exact definition. It is a phrase doctors commonly use to describe a range of undesirable and typically dangerous fetal conditions before, during, and after birth. A newer term for fetal distress is “non-reassuring fetal status.” This phrase encompasses several issues that occur during labor and delivery, such as:
- Abnormal fetal heart rate
- Inadequate oxygen to the brain (hypoxia)
- Shoulder dystocia
- Prolapsed umbilical cord
- Placental abruption
- Uterine rupture
- Gestational diabetes
If a doctor says your baby is in fetal distress, it means the doctor has detected a complication while monitoring the fetus. Typically, doctors use an electronic fetal heart rate monitor to recognize the development of hypoxia in time to take emergency measures. Failure to monitor fetal vital signs during labor and delivery can lead to delayed diagnosis of fetal distress, and the development of harmful conditions or health defects.
Your Case Proving Delayed Treatment or Failure to Diagnosis Fetal Distress
Fetal distress is a delicate situation that requires proper emergency action and immediate treatment. Babies typically only have minutes before the distressing condition causes hypoxia and other negative outcomes. Doctors must take due care to monitor vital signs, detect distress, and administer the appropriate treatment right away. Failure to do so, resulting in a birth injury, is medical malpractice.
To prove a doctor is liable for your child’s birth injury, you need evidence of the delayed diagnosis of fetal distress and that this delay caused your child’s injuries. You must also prove the doctor’s negligence. In most cases, proving negligence requires testimony from an expert. An “expert” may be someone with a similar profession as the defendant or someone with at least five years’ work or teaching experience in the field at hand. An expert can help explain why a reasonably competent doctor would have diagnosed and treated fetal distress sooner in similar conditions.
It’s possible that defective equipment is at fault for delayed treatment or a failure to diagnosis fetal distress. If the electronic fetal monitoring system has defects, a doctor may not be able to detect fetal distress in time to prevent injuries. In these cases, the plaintiff may have a case against the product manufacturer or the hospital for negligent maintenance. Speak to an attorney for information regarding your specific case.
Take the First Step Toward Justice for Your Child
To file a claim for medical malpractice in Pennsylvania, you must submit a certificate of merit within 60 days of your initial claim. This certificate must state that an expert is willing to make a written statement that your case has merit – i.e., that the defendant probably caused the injuries in question. An attorney must sign your affidavit. The best way to file your claim with confidence is with help from Anapol Weiss in Philadelphia.
Working with the attorneys at Anapol Weiss can make this process significantly easier on you and your family. We will take care of the case investigation, including eyewitness interviews, analysis of any video footage of the birth from family members, and hiring an expert to testify on your behalf. It can be difficult to prove fault in a birth injury case. Maximize your odds of recovery with help from our attorneys. To speak with us during a free consultation, call (866) 735-2792 or contact us online.