Can You Sue for Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring Errors?

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Fetal heart monitoring is a way to check the well-being of an unborn child. It is a critical way to detect signs of distress.

Errors in fetal heart rate monitoring can cause significant harm. If your child has been hurt because of a fetal heart rate monitoring error, you may bring a lawsuit for compensation. Our Greenville birth injury lawyer can explain when critical missteps with fetal heart rate monitoring amount to malpractice.

Importance of Monitoring Fetal Heart Rate

Fetal heart rate monitoring measures the heartbeat of an unborn child using medical instruments. The measurements collected may indicate fetal health or distress.

Your doctor may check your baby’s heartbeat in the later stages of pregnancy and during labor.

Monitoring can be periodic or continuous. Auscultation is periodic monitoring, while electronic fetal monitoring is continuous. Monitoring may be done externally or internally.

What doctors look for when monitoring fetal heart rate

When medical professionals monitor fetal heart rate during labor, they look for three main things:

  1. Speed of heartbeat: 110-160 beats per minute is normal for an unborn child.
  2. Patterns: A healthy heartbeat is steady and consistent. A temporary increase (acceleration) can mean things are going well. Fetal heart rate deceleration can happen during contractions. Monitoring must include making sure that the heart rate returns to normal after the contraction. When fetal deceleration is recurring or significant, the baby may be in distress.
  3. Fluctuations: Some variability is normal. Variability is measured in a 10-minute window. Decreased variability may indicate the need for further investigation.

Three categories of fetal heart rate patterns

Healthcare professionals classify fetal heart rate patterns into three categories. These groups indicate whether there is a need for additional investigation or immediate action.

  • Category I: Normal, with moderate variability, no late decelerations. No intervention is required.
  • Category II: Variable or late decelerations occurring occasionally may involve tachycardia, bradycardia, reduced or marked variability. It may be necessary to evaluate the underlying cause like a maternal illness or medical condition. Medications may need to be adjusted. Symptoms may be signs of a fetal heart problem or defect.
  • Category III: No baseline variability with recurrent late decelerations, recurrent variable decelerations, bradycardia, or any sinusoidal pattern. An immediate response is required.

What should happen if a fetal heart rate is abnormal?

How to respond to abnormalities in fetal heart rate depends on the symptoms and the mother’s medical history. It may be necessary to deliver the baby quickly through cesarean birth, using forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery.

Leading up to the child’s birth, abnormalities in fetal heart rate may be grounds to investigate medical conditions, adjust medications, and take other preventative measures.

Fetal heart rate monitoring and medical malpractice

Medical malpractice regarding fetal heart monitoring errors may take several forms:

  • Monitoring incorrectly: Medical professionals must have the skill to set up the fetal heart rate monitor and use it to produce accurate results.
  • Failing to monitor enough: An unborn child’s heartbeat should be checked with enough frequency to detect unusual activity. The correct type of monitoring, along with the right frequency, is important.
  • Not monitoring during a high-risk pregnancy: Someone who has a high-risk pregnancy because of diabetes, medications, or abnormal development may need increased fetal monitoring.
  • Interpreting results incorrectly: Healthcare providers must know how to read the results of fetal heart monitoring. They must know how to recognize warning signs.
  • Responsive action: When warning signs appear, healthcare providers must act swiftly for the health of the mother and child.
  • Inadequate information: Care providers should discuss the results of fetal heart rate monitoring so that the mother can make informed decisions about care.

Suing for Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring Errors

Abnormal fetal heart rate may be a sign of birth asphyxia — that the baby isn’t getting enough oxygen during childbirth. If the problem isn’t corrected, the baby can suffer from Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), which is brain damage and harm to the central nervous system.

Other disabilities may occur. Injuries may affect the child’s intellectual development, muscle movement, heart, excretory system, lungs, and other organs. Sadly, harm may be fatal.

Errors in monitoring heart rate may be an underlying cause of harm. It can be devastating to learn that your child’s suffering could have been prevented.

Here is what you should know:

  • You should contact a lawyer to learn if it is possible to sue for fetal heart rate monitoring errors.
  • The standard is whether the mistake amounted to medical malpractice or falling below the standard of professional care.
  • You must prove the professional standard of care and how it was violated.
  • To receive compensation, you must pursue your case. You’ll rely on experts to explain medical information and document damages.
  • Bobby Jones Law can represent you as early as today.

When a child suffers injury because of fetal heart rate monitoring errors, they may face lifelong challenges and have long-term needs. The full extent may not be known. The compensation you receive can help your family plan for the future.

If you have tragically lost your child because of a fetal heart rate monitoring error, we are truly sorry. With our legal representation, we want to honor your child and pursue justice for your family.

Making your case

Save any records or information that you have about what occurred. It may be helpful to make notes about things people said or events that occurred.

As we build your case, we’ll investigate the details, ask for records, and conduct depositions.

Then, we work with medical experts to verify that medical malpractice occurred. In addition, medical experts can show how the error resulted in harm to the child. They can explain the child’s future prognosis, any complications you may have had during labor, and other damages that resulted from the heart rate monitoring error.

Get legal help

If a fetal heart rate monitoring error occurred and it resulted in harm to your child or other labor complications, contact us.

Bobby Jones Law represents families in getting justice when preventable harm occurs during pregnancy and childbirth. Attorney Robert “Bobby” Jones is an experienced, aggressive litigator, representing your interests and pursuing your compensation.

Call or message us now.

The team at Bobby Jones Law LLC works tirelessly for the injured in South Carolina. His achievements include:
  • More than $60 million collected for our clients
  • Multiple recoveries exceeding $1 million, including an eight-figure settlement
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America
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  • Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Selected as Legal Elite of the Upstate 2021–2023
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We’re humbled to be considered one of the top firms in the Upstate and invite you to learn what sets our award-winning legal services apart. Call or request a consultation online.
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