According to those in the medical community, there is no standard definition for fetal distress and there are no specific guidelines for managing fetal distress. The medical community states that fetal distress is basically “in the eye of the beholder.” Physicians have attempted to define and quantify patterns of fetal heart rate monitoring to better identify the signs of fetal distress. At this point in time, the best way to define fetal distress is as a condition in which the unborn baby experiences a problem(s) during labor and delivery. The most common type of medical emergency that arises during labor and delivery that may be identified as fetal distress is fetal oxygen deprivation. Other emergencies that may constitute fetal distress include: low maternal blood pressure during labor, placental abruption, infections, and a prolapsed umbilical cord. While fetal distress may be a natural event that occurs during labor and delivery, fetal distress may result from a doctor’s or nurse’s negligence. Fetal distress can have serious health consequences for the unborn child, and if the child suffers these injuries due to the negligence of doctor or nurse the child may be the victim of medical malpractice.
While there is no one solid definition of fetal distress within the medical community, there are signs that occur during pregnancy that typically indicate the unborn fetus is experiencing some type of problem.
These signs include: a heart rate less than 100 beats per minute, a heart rate over 180 beats per minute, meconium in the amniotic fluid, and unbalanced pH levels (too much acid in the blood). When fetal distress is recognized, it is imperative the doctors and nurses attending the labor and delivery act quickly to alleviate the fetal distress. Because fetal distress can lead to injuries such as brain damage, it is crucial that doctors and nurses are aware of the fetus’ status at all times. There are several avenues for treating fetal distress and these include: cesarean–section, labor induction, episitomy, forceps delivery, and vacuum extraction. If the fetal distress is not handled in a timely and appropriate manner, the health and well–being of the child may be endangered. When appropriate and timely actions are not taken to alleviate fetal distress and the child is injured as a result, the parents may want to consider filing a medical malpractice claim.
Victims of medical malpractice may be entitled to financial compensation by those individuals or institutions responsible for their injuries. While this financial compensation will not change the course of history and rectify doctor’s or nurse’s negligence, it can provide parents with the financial resources to provide their child with appropriate medical and educational services. Children that have suffered mental or physical injuries due to fetal distress that was not recognized or properly handled by a licensed health care provider may be the unfortunate victims of medical malpractice.