Medical Malpractice And Fetal Distress


During labor and delivery, the vital signs and safety of the baby should be of great importance to the doctor and the other medical professionals in attendance.  However, with the increasing number of understaffed hospitals, there are too few doctors to monitor mothers while they are in labor.  Due to this lack of monitoring, fetal distress may go unnoticed and devastating consequences can result for both the baby and the family.

Fetal distress the name given to a wide range of health problems that indicate that there is something has gone wrong with the health of the fetus.  Symptoms of fetal distress can happen at any time and without warning.  They can even occur during a normal and previously uneventful pregnancy.  Any issue with the fetus that is not identified and resolved quickly and effectively, serious birth injuries, including brain damage and cerebral palsy, can result.

Indications of Fetal Distress

There are several indications of fetal distress that will typically raise concerns among medical professionals, including:

  • Diabetes in the mother
  • Infectious disease in the mother
  • Low fetal oxygen levels (hypoxia)
  • Prolonged labor
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Umbilical cord problems

Symptoms of Fetal Distress

Fetal distress symptoms may be evident in an unborn child or mother during pregnancy or childbirth.  These symptoms include:

  • A decrease in fetal movement.
  • Increase or decrease in heart rate.
  • Meconium in the amniotic fluid.
  • Slowing or stalling of labor.


Medical staff should act immediately at the first signs of fetal distress.  All medical professionals in attendance should be prepared for almost any possible outcome, including the performance of an emergency Cesarean section.  When a baby has been deprived of oxygen there is a greater chance that the baby will suffer a long-term birth injury.  If the staff attending the delivery panics, then other physical injuries could be inflicted on the baby if they act too roughly or mishandle medical instruments.

When birth injuries result from fetal distress, it is important that the circumstances surrounding the birth should be examined to determine whether medical malpractice has occurred.  Such birth injuries include:

  • Brain damage
  • Bone fracture
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Organ failure
  • Stillbirth

Fetal distress is treatable as long as medical professionals adhere to the accepted standards of care and act quickly and competently.  If you or your child has been the victim of medical malpractice, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.

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