Fetal oxygen deprivation can be extremely damaging to an unborn fetus and may cause any number of physical and mental disabilities. Fetal oxygen deprivation occurs when an unborn baby suffers a severe oxygen shortage during labor and delivery. While an infant is equipped to experience short periods of time in which oxygen levels may be low, they are not equipped to handle long periods of time without appropriate levels of oxygen.
If fetal oxygen deprivation occurs for an extended period of time, the unborn baby may suffer severe brain damage known as hypocix–ischemic encephalopathy.
This type of brain damage can cause the child to suffer from permanent, debilitating injuries and may significantly affect the child’s overall quality and length of life. Fetal oxygen deprivation is a medical emergency that may be avoided if doctors and nurses attending the labor and delivery diligently keep an eye on the fetal heart rate monitoring machine and perform fetal scalp pH sampling when necessary. If a child is injured due to fetal oxygen deprivation because of a doctor’s or nurses’ failure to properly monitor the unborn baby’s heart rate or their failure to detect fetal distress, medical malpractice may have occurred.
Physicians and nurses are trained to properly use medical equipment such as fetal heart rate monitors, and it is their responsibility to ensure that the fetal heart rate monitor is watched closely during labor and delivery. The fetal heart rate monitor may be one of the first indicators that the unborn baby is experiencing fetal oxygen deprivation. When the doctors or nurses are negligent in monitoring the fetal heart rate machine and the unborn child suffers brain damage as a result, the child’s parents may have the legal standing needed to file a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice occurs when licensed health care providers fail to provide their patients with appropriate treatment and care. Established standards of care set forth by the medical community provide the guidelines and protocols by which doctors and nurses are to provide care to their patients. When these guidelines and protocols are not followed, the doctor or nurse is negligent in his or her duties, and a patient is injured as a result, the health care provider may be held accountable for medical malpractice.
Fetal oxygen deprivation can have serious life–altering ramifications for both the child and his or her parents. Children that experienced fetal oxygen deprivation and suffered a brain injury as a result often require a lifetime of specialized medical care and educational services. These services can be quite expensive over the lifetime of the child. When parents file a medical malpractice claim they may be entitled to monetary compensation from the individuals responsible for their child’s condition. These monies can be used to help parents pay for medical expenses and special education needs.