How improper electronic fetal monitoring can lead to birth injuries

Medical staff are responsible for carefully monitoring the unborn baby throughout labor and delivery. They must ensure the infant is getting enough oxygen and is not displaying signs of fetal distress. Common warning signs of fetal distress include changes in the baby’s heart rate or movement. Doctors often use electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) to ensure there are no medical complications.

There are two types of EFM. External monitoring consists of the mother wearing a belt-like device with sensors that record the strength of her contractions and the baby’s heartbeat. Internal monitoring involves attaching an electrode to the infant’s scalp after the mother’s cervix dilates to two centimeters. The latter is considered the more accurate of the two monitoring methods. A machine prints data from the monitor onto strips for the medical staff to review.

EFM can be beneficial for alerting doctors and nurses to signs of early fetal distress. However, despite its standard use in hospitals today, fetal monitoring can lead to birth injuries if used improperly. For example, medical staff may misinterpret the information on fetal monitor strips or miss signs of fetal distress during labor or delivery.

Medical staff are responsible for taking appropriate and timely action if complications arise. Nurses may attempt to restore normal oxygenation to the baby by changing the mother’s position, administering supplemental oxygen or increasing intravenous fluids. If such routine interventions are ineffective in improving the baby’s condition, an emergency cesarean section may be necessary. A doctor’s failure to act quickly may result in the baby suffering brain injuries, cerebral palsy, developmental delays or even death.

It is important to note that determining fault can be more complicated than it might seem. If you or your child was injured and you believe someone else is fully or partially to blame, contact our personal injury team at Chalik & Chalik to learn more about your rights.