Birth Injuries Resulting from Placental Abruption
There are many complications that can occur during pregnancy. Some are very common and can be easily treated, while others are more serious and can have very serious consequences if doctors do not act quickly.
Placental abruption is ones of these complications that is not common, but it can be extremely serious.
During pregnancy, placenta develops as a means of nourishing the baby. The placenta is supposed to stay attached to the wall of the uterus, but when it separates from the uterine wall, partially or completely, it can become a big problem. When placental abruption occurs usually the mother will experience heavy bleeding. Doctors must react quickly, as this abruption deprives the baby of both oxygen and vital nutrients.
What is placental abruption? When placenta separates from the wall of the uterus it is called placental abruption. This process can either occur suddenly or it can develop more slowly. Heavy vaginal bleeding is oftentimes a sign that placental abruption may be an immediate concern.
What causes it? The cause of placental abruption is often unknown. However, the condition is often common is women with high blood pressure or those who have been involved in a trauma.
Placental abruption can result in the baby becoming oxygen deprived when the placenta separates extensively from the uterine wall. Placental abruption needs to be identified and reacted to immediately as in a full term pregnancy, it is considered an emergency. Usually this means that the baby needs to be delivered quickly by way of a cesarean section. If a doctor does not react quickly and deliver the baby, the child can sustain serious brain injury, be seriously injured, or even die.
What are the consequences of not treating it quickly? Untreated, placental abruption can jeopardize both mother and child. One Pennsylvania medical malpractice case that included placental abruption resulted in a settlement of $1.5 million when it was determined that doctors had failed to properly monitor the mother’s high risk pregnancy.
The woman was considered to be a high risk pregnancy because she had high blood pressure. This made her more likely to develop the complication of placental abruption. The woman was admitted to the hospital when she was 35 weeks into her pregnancy when she showed signs of severe pregnancy-induced hypertension. She was hospitalized for five days before her condition began to worsen and doctors decided that the fetal heart rate should be monitored. When the monitors were attached it was evident that the baby was in distress.
The mother was administered drugs to induce labor, but eight hours went by where the fetus became more and more distressed before a decision decided to perform a cesarean section. Another whole hour went by before the procedure was actually performed.
The delay caused the baby to be deprived of oxygen for an extended period and suffered a type of brain damage called acute hypoxic-ischemia. As a result the baby developed cerebral palsy and passed away at two and a half years old.
The medical malpractice case that followed was eventually settled for $1.5 million.
This case is especially alarming because the woman was admitted to the hospital where they had all of the technology to monitor her and her baby. She demonstrated high blood pressure which automatically put her at a higher risk for placental abruption. Even so, doctors and nurses chose not to monitor the fetal heart rate until she had already been in the hospital for five days. Doctors could have done an ultrasound that would presumably have shown if there had been placental abruption.
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