How Improper Fetal Monitoring Can Lead to Serious Injury

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, accidental injuries were the fifth leading cause of infant deaths in 2013. During the birth process, doctors must carefully monitor the fetus to avoid accidents and complications. If improper monitoring occurs, the baby can experience brain damage, cerebral palsy, and even paralysis.

What Is Fetal Monitoring?

errors in fetal monitoring

During labor, doctors and nurses carefully monitor the fetus’s heart rate and the mother’s contractions to anticipate fetal distress. Primarily, medical professionals use two types of electronic fetal monitors (EFM) to keep track of the baby’s heartbeat:

  • External. The external monitor is an electronic strap attached to the mother’s abdomen. Using wires, it sends signals to a recording machine, keeping the delivery team abreast of any abnormalities.
  • Internal. When the mother’s cervix is dilated to between two and three centimeters, medical staff attaches an internal fetal monitor to the baby’s head. This device also records and sends information to a machine through which doctors and nurses can track any unusual heart rates or contractions.

Improper Fetal Monitoring Leads to Injury

Depending on the mother’s condition, doctors and nurses will monitor the baby continuously or occasionally. If the baby seems to be doing well, she may only be monitored every hour or so. Heart rates can be read as either “reassuring” or “non-reassuring.” If a heart rate is considered non-reassuring, it may mean the baby isn’t getting enough oxygen. If the data from these monitors is read improperly or ignored, complications can include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Infection
  • Stillbirth
  • Asphyxia
  • Brain damage
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Paralysis
  • Placental abruption
  • Developmental delays

Find Trustworthy Legal Help

If your baby was injured during delivery as a result of improper monitoring, we can help. The experienced legal team at the Holton Law Firm successfully advocates for injured infants and fights for fair compensation to cover their medical expenses and your pain and suffering. To get started on your case, contact us by starting a live online chat with us.