Patient Safety Awareness – Maternal and Infant Health

March 14 – 20, 2021, is Patient Safety Awareness Week. Led by the National Patient Safety Foundation, Patient Safety Awareness Week is an annual campaign designed to help patients and medical professionals improve healthcare practices. Medical errors cause an estimated 440,000 deaths each year. This makes preventable harm in the hospital the third leading cause of death in the U.S., right behind cancer and heart disease. Though it is only a week-long campaign, Patient Safety Awareness Week offers education that can improve care all year long.

This year in observation of Patient Safety Awareness Week, the birth injury attorneys at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, are highlighting maternal and infant health. Babies are particularly vulnerable to medical malpractice during pregnancy, delivery, and the neonatal period. Our Birmingham birth injury lawyers understand that an injury or loss during childbirth is devastating for families. It is our goal to raise awareness of maternal and infant health.

Alabama has a high rate of maternal and infant mortality. Recent data from 2018, showed that Alabama’s maternal mortality rate was the third-highest in the nation. Alabama had a rate of 36.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, which was more than double the national average of 17.4. The state’s infant mortality rate was 7.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018 compared to the national rate of 5.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

Maternal and Infant Health

Prenatal care and testing provide information about the health of both mother and baby. These tests allow doctors to prevent or manage conditions that could cause complications during pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

Families and healthcare professionals use information from prenatal care and testing to develop a birth plan to minimize or prevent complications. The position and size of the baby are also factored into this birth plan. You should always be willing and prepared for a c-section.

This procedure may be the safest course of action if prolonged labor or certain complications put either the mother or baby at risk. When you arrive at the hospital for labor and delivery, tell the nurses that you want to know about any heart rate drops or late heart rate decelerations.

The most common causes associated with maternal death during childbirth include:

  • Postpartum hemorrhage,
  • Heart disease and cardiac arrest,
  • Post-delivery infections.

Birth injuries can occur during the labor and delivery process or shortly after birth. Some medical malpractice errors that may result in a birth injury include:

  • Failure to monitor mother and child.
  • Failure to respond to signs of fetal distress.
  • Failure to perform a c-section after signs of fetal distress
  • Failure to monitor fetal heart rate.
  • Failure to diagnose and treat infections or other medical conditions.
  • Failure to implement precautions in high-risk pregnancy.
  • Improper use of birth tools, including forceps and vacuum extraction devices.
  • Improper use of labor-enhancing drugs, including Pitocin and Cytotec.

Some birth injuries can heal completely as time passes. Others leave severe side effects that persist or progress throughout the remainder of the child’s life. Birth injuries can include:

  • Birth asphyxia and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Brachial plexus
  • Cephalohematoma
  • Brain injury

Our Birth Injury Lawyers are Here to Help

While Patient Safety Awareness Week is improving the healthcare system, there is still a long way to go. If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of medical malpractice, contact Hare, Wynn, Newell and Newton today. Our experienced lawyers are dedicated to holding medical professionals accountable for negligence. We can help your family get the justice and compensation you deserve.

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