Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a condition that can cause blindness in premature infants and may occur when high levels of oxygen are administered to premature infants. These high levels of oxygen can cause an overgrowth of new blood vessel in the eyes which can cause scar tissue to form. The formation of scar tissue may cause retinal detachment, which can lead to impaired vision or blindness. While high oxygen exposure is not the only cause of retinopathy of prematurity, it is one of the major causes of ROP. Because many advances have been made in the technologies used to treat premature infants, such as the ability to properly and adequately monitor oxygen levels, it is difficult to believe that conditions such as retinopathy of prematurity still occur. Many times, ROP occurs due to a licensed health care provider’s failure to follow standard protocols for monitoring oxygen levels. When a premature infant develops a condition such as retinopathy of prematurity due to a health care provider’s negligence to monitor oxygen levels, the child’s family may have the legal standing necessary to file a claim of medical malpractice against the child’s health care provider.
The U.S. enjoys some of the most advanced health care in the world, but even with today’s technologies it is reported that there are 500 to 1,200 cases of blindness or severe eye complications reported each year duet o retinopathy of prematurity.
It is has been estimated that ROP affects more than 16 percent of infants born prematurely. Premature infants that are most susceptible of developing ROP include: infants born at less than 32 weeks of gestation, infants that are administered high levels of supplemental oxygen, and infants that weigh less than 3.31 lbs at birth. Generally speaking, the lower the birth weight the more likely the infant will develop retinopathy of prematurity.
While doctors may not be able to prevent a child from being born prematurely or ensure the premature child is born at a healthy weight, the doctor can make certain the proper oxygen levels are administered to the premature infant after birth. This task is a reasonable and expected job duty that a doctor, nurse, or other health care provider is responsible for and possesses the training, expertise, and knowledge to meet this job–related obligation. When premature infants are injured as a result of a health care provider’s failure to meet his or her job–related responsibilities, the health care provider may be held liable for medical malpractice.
Victims of medical malpractice may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries they sustained as a result of a health care provider’s negligence. The financial remuneration obtained through a medical malpractice claim can help the parents of children with retinopathy of prematurity ensure that their children have all of the additional medical assistance and educational support they need and deserve to have a happy and successful life.