Military Doctors Failing to Recognize Fetal Distress Can Lead to Lifetime Care

The news of pregnancy and birth of a child should be a cause for celebration, but when the health of the baby is in question, patients must rely on medical professionals to provide superior care and help assure that mother and child emerge healthy and happy. Unfortunately, birth injuries may result from fetal distress before and during child birth, which can lead to a lifetime of medical care and financial strain. With proper prenatal care and monitoring, though, doctors should be able to recognize and treat fetal distress.

When fetal distress is the result of malpractice on the part of military doctors and nurses, a knowledgeable California malpractice attorney can help families recover compensation by filing claims through the National Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).

What causes fetal distress?

Fetal distress can be caused by abnormal fetal position or presentation, umbilical cord problems, uterine rupture, preeclampsia, prolonged labor, misuse of forceps or vacuum extractor, or misuse of Pitocin or other labor-inducing medications. In these cases and others, fetal distress can be attributed to the malpractice or wrongful action of the military medical professionals responsible for monitoring the pregnancy, labor and delivery. Any resulting injuries to the fetus or mother can be grounds for a birth injury claim.

Types of fetal distress

Fetal distress is any condition a fetus experiences during pregnancy or labor that is dangerous to its health, usually related to oxygen deprivation. Types of fetal distress can include any of the following:

  • Abnormal fetal heart rate
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Low biophysical profile in third trimester
  • Prolonged labor
  • Prolonged pregnancy
  • Contractions that are too strong
  • Too frequent contractions
  • Rapid labor or delivery
  • Difficult labor

Recognizing fetal distress

Sometimes referred to as “non-reassuring fetal status” by The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), fetal distress happens when doctors and nurses fail to properly monitor the baby’s vital signs, particularly increased heart rate (tachycardia) and low heart rate (bradycardia). Military medical professionals can administer non-stress tests (NST) to monitor the fetus’s movement and heart rate, contraction stress tests to determine how well the fetus will endure labor and delivery, as well as ultrasounds that show the level of amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus. Additional signs of possible fetal distress include vaginal bleeding, cramping, and excessive weight gain during pregnancy.

Treatments for fetal distress

Once recognized, there are several ways doctors can treat fetal distress, such as:

  • Changing the mother’s position
  • Providing oxygen to the mother
  • Ensuring the mother is hydrated, sometimes with intravenous solutions
  • Amnioinfusion, or adding fluid to amniotic cavity to reduce pressure on fetus
  • Emergency Caesarian section

Even with these remedies, fetal distress can be difficult to treat, and sometimes the only way to overcome fetal distress is to induce labor or perform an emergency C-section.

It is the responsibility of military doctors and nurses to recognize and treat fetal distress in patients, and failure to act appropriately may constitute negligence and lead to lifelong consequences. Any resulting medical costs as well as long-term care for patients and families affected by a fetal distress birth injury may be compensated through the FTCA with guidance from an experienced California medical malpractice attorney.

Recover compensation for birth injuries resulting from fetal distress

The Bertling Law Group handles cases of military birth injury and fetal distress throughout California and on a national level. Contact us online or by calling 844-295-7558 today for a free, no obligation consultation.