Negligence In Fetal Monitoring Medical Malpractice

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Throughout pregnancy, and especially during labor and delivery, fetal monitoring is an important tool that helps physicians evaluate an unborn baby’s well being and keep the baby safe during labor. However, if a medical professional makes errors in interpreting or responding to what the monitor shows, the consequences can be devastating.


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If your child was the victim of doctor negligence in fetal monitoring, your family deserves justice. Below, we cover everything you need to know about fetal monitoring medical malpractice.

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What Is Fetal Monitoring Medical Malpractice?

Fetal monitoring records the heart rate of the fetus, which includes the presence or absence of accelerations and decelerations of the heartbeat. Fetal monitoring is typically done in two ways:

  • Externally. This method uses a device to listen to and record the fetus’s heartbeat through the abdomen of the mother. Typically, a monitor is attached to a belt-like device that is placed around the mother’s stomach. It records the fetal heartbeat rate and transmits this pattern, via a computer, to a printer, producing what’s known as a fetal monitoring strip.
  • Internally. In this method, a thin wire (electrode) runs from the scalp of the fetus through the cervix of the mother. This technique gives better readings but can only be used when the fetus reaches the proper position in the birth canal and adequate dilation has occurred. Internal monitoring is commonly used to closely monitor the baby during labor or when external monitoring fails to provide a good reading.

Doctors and medical staff are trained to use fetal monitoring to detect any signs of fetal distress. When these signs are detected, the medical staff must act quickly to prevent harm to the baby. However, errors in fetal monitoring occur when an abnormal fetal heart rate goes unrecognized or is not acted upon, which can lead to:

  • Asphyxia
  • Paralysis
  • Brain damage
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Stillbirth

When a medical professional causes harm by failing to deliver the generally accepted standard of care, resulting in injury or death to a baby or mother, it’s known as negligence. This can include:

  • Failure to identify an abnormal fetal heart rate
  • Failure to use continuous monitoring when the circumstances warrant it
  • Failure to act when signs of fetal distress have been detected
  • Failure to distinguish between the baby’s heart rate and the mother’s heart rate
  • Failure to deliver by cesarean section or operative vaginal delivery when the baby’s health it at risk

What Do You Need to Prove in a Fetal Monitoring Medical Malpractice Case?

If your child has suffered a fetal monitoring birth injury that resulted from doctor negligence, you may be entitled to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, litigation against a physician or hospital can be complex and difficult to prove. To demonstrate that the doctor was responsible for causing or failing to prevent your child’s injury, you and your medical negligence lawyer must demonstrate that your case contains the four elements of medical malpractice:

  • Duty. This demonstrates the relationship between you and your child and the physician, as well as the doctor’s responsibility to provide safe medical care during labor and delivery.
  • Breach of duty. You and your medical negligence attorney will need to prove that your doctor failed to provide the standard of care that was required under the circumstances.
  • Causation. This part of the medical malpractice claim involves showing that the doctor’s violation of the standard of care was the cause of your child’s injury.
  • Damages. The final element that you and your medical malpractice lawyer will need to prove is the damages to your child from the negligence. In addition to physical and emotional suffering, this can also include things like loss of future income and increased medical care and therapies.

How Are Fetal Monitoring Medical Malpractice Cases Resolved?

Every medical malpractice lawsuit is unique, and some cases may not reach every step in the overall process. However, the filing and litigation of most of these cases include the following basic steps:

  • Investigating your case. Your attorney will gather all of the relevant medical records and consult with experts in the applicable fields of medicine to determine whether medical malpractice occurred.
  • Filling a lawsuit. This step happens once your attorney officially files the case, which designates you as the plaintiff and your doctor and hospital as the defendants. The court will process the lawsuit and it will be sent to the defendants, who will have a specific number of days to respond.
  • Discovery. This stage of litigation refers to the exchanging of information between you and the defendant. Your hospital negligence attorney will build your case by gathering the following:
    • Depositions (testimony from you, the defendants, and medical experts)
    • Medical records that specify the harm your child has sustained
    • Hospital bills and other expense reports
    • Other related evidence
  • Negotiating a settlement. Agreeing to a settlement may be preferable to a trial because it means the defendant has agreed to pay certain compensation, rather than continuing to trial. If a settlement is reached, neither side is declared a winner, but the defendant agrees to pay compensation for your damages.
  • Going to trial. If an appropriate settlement can’t be reached, a judge and jury will hear arguments from both you and the defendant, and will make a decision on the case.

Locations We Serve

Our experienced attorneys have handled mismanaged labor and delivery cases nationwide. Altogether, our attorneys are licensed to practice in almost a dozen states, including:

  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.

If you reside outside of these states, Janet, Janet & Suggs may still be able to represent you. Our attorneys have received court approval to practice in several other states across the country.

Why Choose Janet, Janet & Suggs?

If your child was the victim of medical negligence, you need a dedicated partner who cares about your baby’s recovery. At Janet, Janet & Suggs, we’ve dedicated our lives to fighting for victims of medical malpractice. We’ve been winning successful settlements and jury verdicts for people in their time of need for 40 years. Some of our medical negligence law wins include:

  • 15.1 Million: A trial award by a federal judge in a Tennessee case against an Army Hospital whose improper fetal monitoring during labor and failure to properly counsel the mother led to her child suffering a hypoxic-ischemic brain injury, resulting in cerebral palsy and lifelong neurological deficits.
  • 13.5 million: This record jury verdict in Iowa was obtained for a child’s cere­bral palsy caused by a brain injury as the result of inconsistent fetal heart monitoring during birth.
  • 9 Million: This settlement was reached in a case involving the misin­ter­pre­ta­tion of a prenatal sono­gram that resulted in the birth of a child with severe, life-long brain damage.

We understand the physical, financial, and emotional trauma you’ve been through, and we want to fight for the justice and compensation your family deserves. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case. We’ll help you decide the next best steps in your case so that you can focus on your child’s recovery.

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