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Improper Electric Fetal Monitoring

Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM) can monitor the health of the baby during labor by continuously measuring the fetal heart rate. The fetal heart rate pattern must be evaluated in order to establish if the infant is receiving sufficient oxygen during labor and delivery. When a baby is deprived of adequate oxygen, his or her organs, including the brain, might sustain damage. Brain damage sustained during labor and delivery can be permanent and have a profound effect on the child’s life. A child can develop cerebral palsy, a motor handicap, if they did not receive enough oxygen during labor and delivery. The best technique for medical practitioners to determine if a baby is receiving adequate oxygen is by monitoring the fetal heart. Fetal distress is indicated if the baby’s heart rate is too high, too low, or otherwise abnormal. Fetal distress may indicate that the baby’s body is attempting to adjust to oxygen deprivation; it is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

If medical practitioners fail to use fetal heart rate monitors as directed, operate monitors incorrectly, interpret monitor readouts inaccurately, or fail to intervene when necessary, the repercussions could be severe. If the infant is injured as a result of irresponsible monitoring of the fetal heart rate, this constitutes medical malpractice. Our experienced trial attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano have a comprehensive understanding of medical malpractice law and empathy for families coping with the financial and emotional implications of birth injuries. We have numerous offices throughout Upstate New York that allow us to assist clients throughout the region. The results we have obtained for our clients are reflective of our significant experience in the field of medical malpractice.

EFM monitors and traces the mother’s uterine activity, continuously displaying the duration and intensity of the mother’s contractions. The contraction pattern of the mother is vital information that medical professionals must regularly monitor. If the infant is not reacting well to the mother’s contractions or the labor as a whole, the medical staff must take action to protect the infant.  This may involve abandoning the vaginal delivery plan in favor of a Cesarean section. If the medical practitioners fail to act promptly or fail to comprehend the information offered by EFM, they may cause severe damage to the mother and/or the infant.

External and internal methods of fetal monitoring exist. Periodically or continuously, external monitoring may be performed. Periodic external monitoring requires the placement of a transducer on the mother’s abdomen. This is permissible for low-risk pregnancies. Pregnancies with a high risk, however, require ongoing internal monitoring. Once the mother’s water has broken, internal monitoring can be performed which entails inserting an electrode onto the baby’s scalp. The internal fetal monitor may measure the baby’s heart rate and the mother’s contractions more accurately than the external monitor. In both techniques, data is transmitted from the monitors through wires to a machine that records and prints the information on strips for doctors and nurses to view.

If the medical provider utilizes EFM but fails to check the monitoring regularly enough to guarantee that the infant can tolerate labor, this constitutes medical malpractice. If the mother is high-risk or given medication to induce labor, as well as when she enters the second stage of labor and begins pushing, more frequent examinations are required. Medical professionals can often evaluate EFM strips displaying both fetal heart rate and uterine activity both in the labor and delivery room and elsewhere in the hospital. Hence, medical professionals should have simple access to this information and have no justification for not closely monitoring it.

EFM is difficult to interpret, but medical professionals are educated to do so and are obligated to interpret EFM appropriately so that the mother and child do not sustain an avoidable injury. If the EFM reveals that the infant is not reacting normally, but the medical team permits labor to continue, the infant may sustain damage. Alternately, when medical professionals correctly read the fetal monitoring strip but fail to respond accordingly, a catastrophic injury might result. There are particular patterns that medical professionals are trained to look for on the EFM, and when such patterns are present, a suitable response plan must be implemented immediately. The response may include administering intravenous fluids, providing extra oxygen, or repositioning the mother. If these measures do not result in an improvement in the fetal heart rate pattern, or if they signal that the baby is not tolerating labor, the medical staff must swiftly notice the situation and may need to plan for an emergency cesarean section. When medical caregivers fail to implement these actions in response to concerning EFM findings, they may be guilty of medical malpractice.

Sadly, there are instances in which the medical team fails to apply or interpret EFM effectively. When this occurs, the medical professionals may have committed medical malpractice and can be held liable for any harm caused by their negligence. There are numerous examples of medical personnel committing misconduct in relation to EFM. Despite the widespread use of fetal monitoring in hospitals today, doctors and nurses occasionally neglect to monitor patients or interpret monitor tracings incorrectly. This can result in devastating birth complications, including brain damage for the newborn.  Sometimes fetal monitoring errors can result in stillbirth.

If it is possible to demonstrate liability for birth injuries caused by an error in fetal heart monitoring, it may be possible to recover damages. Occasionally birth injuries necessitate expensive, lifelong medical treatment. You may be eligible for compensation for economic and noneconomic losses resulting from the birth injuries.

If you or your child has suffered a birth injury, and if you believe that you or your baby were not monitored appropriately during your pregnancy or labor and delivery, then you should consider speaking with an attorney. Given the complexity of pregnancy and the labor and delivery process, it can be difficult to determine whether a healthcare provider’s medical malpractice caused injuries to you or your child. Hiring a medical malpractice lawyer who has experience handling cases involving EFM and birth injuries is key to making these determinations.  The attorneys at DeFrancisco & Falgiatano our highly experienced attorneys have the tools and know-how to investigate your case to determine whether the medical team committed medical malpractice, and how to prove such a claim in a court of law. We represent clients throughout Upstate New York including Syracuse, Rochester, Elmira, Auburn, Binghamton, Ithaca, Norwich, Herkimer, Delhi, Oneida, Lowville, Watertown, Oswego, Utica, Wampsville, Canandaigua, Cooperstown, and Lyons. Please call us at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form.

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