Fetal distress is a term used to describe complications during labor and
delivery. Generally, it refers to an unborn baby who is not receiving
enough oxygen. Because oxygen deprivation, or birth asphyxia, can result
in devastating consequences, including cerebral palsy, medical professionals
have a duty to identify signs of distress and respond appropriately. Failing
to identify fetal distress, delays in treatment or intervention, or failures
to take action, such as a C-section can lead to permanent brain damage,
long-term effects, or the death of a fetus.
During birth, medical staff must closely monitor mothers and babies in
order to identify possible complications. This is done through close evaluation
of fetal heart rate monitors. Some minimal diminution of oxygen is normal
as a baby progresses through the birth canal, and no long-term motor or
intellectual impairment will result. However, prolonged and severe distress
is a red flag requires intervention and treatment in order to avoid preventable
birth injuries and serious long-term consequences.
When fetal heart rate monitors indicate non-reassuring results, medical
staff must take a number of steps to address the problem, including administering
oxygen to the mother, turning the mother onto her side, performing evaluations
to identify potential complications, or performing emergency
C-sections, among others. It becomes their responsibility to properly identify complications
reasonable medical professionals would identify under similar circumstances,
and to treat them appropriately. When they do not, the risks for long-term
injury substantially increases.
Proven Record in Fetal Distress Birth Injury Cases
At Beam Legal Team, our birth injury attorneys have handled many cases
involving medical professionals who failed in some capacity to identify
and / or appropriately respond to fetal distress during labor and delivery.
As many of our case results show, these failures often result in serious
long-term side effects. For example:
- We secured a $15 million settlement in a case where the hospital failed
to recognize fetal distress signs during a two-day Pitocin induction of
a young mother. As a result, they failed to perform a C-section and overdosed
Pitocin to the point that it caused excessive contractions. The child
in this case suffered severe brain damage, and is unable to talk, walk,
or care for herself.
- In a case that was settled for $11 million, attending nurses and doctors
confused the mother’s heartrate for the baby’s when monitoring
a fetal heart rate monitor. This led to their failure to recognize significant
fetal distress and the baby suffering brain damage, cerebral palsy, and
the need for lifetime 24/7 nursing care.
- Our firm secured a $6.875 million settlement in a Michigan birth injury
case where a child suffered brain damage after medical staff failed to
detect fetal distress and failed to perform an emergency C-section hours
before. The lack of oxygen resulted in a diagnosis of spastic quadriplegia
cerebral palsy, the most severe case of CP, seizure complications, microcephaly,
and developmental delays.
As our cases and many others like it make clear, fetal distress is certainly
cause for long-term health consequences, especially when medical professionals
are negligent in identifying and responding to complications. Often, these
errors prove devastating to children and their families, and commonly
result in life-altering challenges, emotional injuries, and the need for
lifelong care and specialized accommodations.
If you and your loved ones believe treating medical staff failed to appropriately
detect and respond to fetal distress during birth, you may be entitled
to financial compensation for resulting preventable birth injuries and
long-term consequences. To determine if you may have grounds for a lawsuit
and how our award-winning legal team can protect your rights,
contact us for a FREE consultation.