Did Your Doctor Fail to Recognize Perinatal Asphyxia?

A nurse bends over a baby with perinatal asphyxia in an incubator.

Each birth experience is an unknown territory for every couple. It may be a smooth labor with a rapid delivery or it may have complications requiring the immediate action of your doctor. Perinatal asphyxia may happen suddenly before, during or immediately after birth — making the proper care and monitoring of your baby essential to their overall health. However, medical professionals may fail to detect critical warning signs leading to a change in your family’s life forever.

Perinatal Asphyxia Defined

Perinatal Asphyxia (also called birth asphyxia or neonatal asphyxia) occurs when a baby is deprived of oxygen before or during the birth process — causing physical harm to the brain, lungs or heart. The lack of oxygen to the brain may lead to immediate and life-long health conditions such as brain damage, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, learning disabilities and infant death.

Common causes of perinatal asphyxia include:

  • The separation of the child from the uterus and placenta too early;
  • The mother is not given enough oxygen during the birth process;
  • Labor and delivery are too long;
  • Mother or child develops an infection during pregnancy;
  • The umbilical cord wraps around the child during birth;
  • High or low blood pressure during pregnancy; or
  • The child is anemic.

Perinatal asphyxia usually is not directly caused by medical negligence rather by natural causes. However, your doctor could be liable if they failed to recognize the warning signs or they did not respond quick enough and it led to irreversible damage.

How Does Your Doctor Detect Perinatal Asphyxia? 

During prenatal visits, labor and delivery, you place trust in your medical provider to care for both yourself and your child. Prior to delivery, mothers should attend regular visits to allow their doctor to conduct prenatal testing, gather medical history and make note of potential risk factors that could arise during delivery. During delivery, doctors are trained to monitor the baby’s acid levels, watch the fetal heart rate, measure the Apgar score immediately after birth and look for signs of neurological problems to avoid complications.

If certain health complications arise during birth, your doctor may  perform an emergency c-section or an assisted delivery with medical instruments such as forceps to bring your child into the world safely. If your doctor fails to act and it results in your child’s case of perinatal asphyxia, you may have a viable birth injury lawsuit for medical malpractice.

Did my Doctor Fail to Practice the Standard of Care? 

Anyone has the ability to make a mistake when pressures run high. However, medical professionals take an oath to give their patients the appropriate level of care under the circumstances. Doctors have a duty to adapt to situations that arise and act quickly to correct them to ensure the safety of their patients. While there are instances where perinatal asphyxia may occur through no fault of your doctor, if they failed to recognize the warning signs or conduct proper testing, your child’s condition would fall under medical negligence.

There are two important aspects to proving medical negligence in perinatal asphyxia cases: proving your provider failed to exercise reasonable care and skill expected during birth and their failure was a direct cause of your child’s injury. If you believe both conditions occurred during your birth process, you should immediately seek medical care and contact a birth injury attorney to form your case.

An Advocate for the Future of your Family

At Zevan Davidson Roman, we understand your child’s perinatal asphyxia diagnosis may have set your family on a different course than planned. As both parents and St. Louis birth injury attorneys, we strive to hold the negligent parties responsible in birth injury cases and get you the compensation you deserve to care for your child. Contact our experienced team of attorneys for a free consultation to bring your family closer to recovery.

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