When a baby is born, sometimes health complications require a visit to the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. It’s not an uncommon situation; in fact, about 10 percent of babies born in the U.S. will end up in the NICU every year.
Although some health problems in newborns are unavoidable, sometimes a baby is injured or becomes sick during labor or delivery because of avoidable medical errors. This is known as medical malpractice, and it can lead to terrible—sometimes even fatal—consequences.
New families whose babies must spend time in the NICU can have Dr. Jack Tolliver review their child’s medical records to determine if their newborn’s injury or illness was avoidable.
Causes of a NICU visit
There are many reasons why a baby may be admitted to the NICU. Some of the most common include:
- Prematurity (delivered before 37 weeks)
- Breathing problems, including slow breathing, apnea (suspension of breathing), and hypoxia(lack of oxygen to the brain). Often, babies with breathing problems will be born with blue-tinted skin.
- Underdeveloped lungs
- Anemia, sometimes caused by blood loss from placental abruption, placenta previa, or umbilical cord issues
- Bleeding in the brain
- Extreme jaundice, known as kernicterus
- Hydrocephalus, or water on the brain
- Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS)
- Sepsis, an infection that infiltrates the bloodstream
- Chronic lung disease
- PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborn)
Babies in the NICU will receive around-the-clock care by specialized staff to help with the healing process. Doctors and nurses may use special equipment, such as ventilators, catheters, and life support monitors, to ensure each newborn receives proper medical care.
Medical malpractice in the NICU
NICU babies must be treated with extreme care. Often these babies are premature, and their bodies and systems aren’t fully developed yet. Staff who work in the NICU must be competent in the treatment of these fragile newborns; otherwise, mistakes in care can be devastating.
Unfortunately, medical mistakes do occur in the NICU. These errors can lead to such serious consequences as brain damage, cerebral palsy, HIE, and life-long developmental delays. These outcomes can permanently alter a child’s wellness and future.
NICU errors include the following:
- Failure to properly use ventilating equipment, resulting in overventilation
- Failure to treat serious conditions such a extreme jaundice (kernicterus), leading to permanent brain damage
- Mismanagement of feeding tubes, IVs, or central lines
- Delay in resuscitating the baby, causing permanent brain damage
- Failure to diagnose infections, including sepsis and Group-B Strep
If you believe an error in the NICU caused your child to suffer injury or death, Dr. Tolliver can help you understand your child’s situation. Medical errors should never happen—but when they do, doctors and hospitals should be held accountable for these terrible mistakes.
Dr. Tolliver offers free consultations to families whose children were injured in the NICU. If we believe you have a case of medical malpractice, our law firm can help your family seek the justice you deserve. We never pass on costs and fees to our clients unless we win your case. Contact us today.