Some babies may require intensive medical attention immediately following birth, especially if they suffer a birth injury or are born prematurely. Medical errors in the NICU can be extremely serious, and can lead to lifelong complications including the development of cerebral palsy.
If a baby is born prematurely or with health complications, they are often moved to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in order to get round-the-clock care. These newborns often have compromised or immature immune systems, so it’s vital that they receive constant monitoring and attention in order to mitigate the risk of serious complications.
Unfortunately many things can go wrong even within the NICU, especially when the level of care provided falls below the accepted standard of care in the medical community.
Some of the reasons why a baby may be placed in NICU include:
- Premature birth
- The child suffered an hypoxic event during labor
- Jaundice, hyperbilirubinemia, or kernicterus at birth
- Underdeveloped lungs
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension
- Trouble breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
Time is of the Essence
Once delivered, doctors must act fast to mitigate any potential health risks to the child. Failing to identify and treat these complications in a timely manner could result in preventable brain damage, and could be considered malpractice.
Once in the NICU, doctors must address any issues the baby may be suffering from. This can include inserting a breathing tube into the child’s airway, getting rid of secretions such as mucous that may be hindering breathing, as well as lowering the child’s body temperature to bring down their fever in the case of an infection.
NICU Errors & Legal Ramifications
Errors in the neonatal intensive care unit often result in life-changing complications. It’s not uncommon for a child to develop cerebral palsy, intercranial bleeding, traumatic brain injury, paralysis, loss of limbs due to an uncontrolled infection, and seizure disorders which are not only difficult to treat, but expensive to manage.
Here are some of the most common NICU errors:
- Feeding, IV tube, or central line mismanagement.
- Not resuscitating the baby in a timely manner.
- Failure to treat dangerous infections or jaundice appropriately.
- Over-ventilation of the incubator.
- Failure to diagnose sepsis.
- Failure to administer the right doses of a medication.
- Failure to recognize that a baby is experiencing brain-damaging seizures.
- Failing to regularly inspect, maintain, and replace NICU equipment.
- Failure to regularly monitor a baby’s vital signs in order to mitigate emergencies as they happen.
As a parent, you deserve the best for your child, as well as competent medical care. It is possible to hold medical professionals liable for damages when their negligence arises to the level of medical malpractice, but successfully bringing such a claim often requires the assistance of a birth injury attorney.