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Do You Know How to Recognize Fetal Distress? Your Doctor Might Not

Fetal distress is a broad term used to describe a number of related conditions that may arise during pregnancy or childbirth. Fetal distress can come on suddenly - and it can cause serious injury to the mother, as well as long-term health consequences or death for the baby.

Most commonly, fetal distress is discovered during labor through the use of fetal monitoring equipment commonly referred to as "fetal monitor strips." But in the delivery room, seconds count, and any delay, doubt or misdiagnosis on the part of your care providers can have disastrous consequences for your growing family.

Early Recognition of Warning Signs Essential to Protect Baby

Fetal distress is relatively common: it affects an estimated one in fifty births. Yet, the signs of fetal distress can be subtle, some of them as slight as a mild slowing of the baby's heartbeat. It takes years of experience before doctors/labor delivery nurses are able to quickly recognize these signs.

Even so, monitoring a birth is not always deemed a complicated procedure in the medical field. In many delivery rooms, new doctors - medical residents - are put squarely in charge. It is also popular for new nurses and other health care professionals to "cut their teeth" by taking part in a birth.

The use of the birthing chamber as a training facility is all well and good - until something goes drastically wrong. Breathing problems and abnormal positioning are two hallmarks of fetal distress that can mean a cutoff of the baby's oxygen flow; it only takes a few short moments without oxygen to cause permanent brain damage or death.

Do you know who's watching the screen, monitoring your baby's vital signs? Or how far away the attending physician is, the doctor who is responsible for overseeing the medical residents? Any confusion, any question of who is in charge, can cost the valuable time that can mean the difference between a healthy baby and a lifetime of impairment.

What You Can Do About Doctor Errors in the Birthing Process

It is the doctor's job to make sure you have a normal, healthy birth. But there are things you can do to help. Pay attention to your body's signs: if something doesn't feel right, let someone know. And, don't be afraid to insist on seeing the attending physician if you have any doubt about the qualifications of your caregivers.

All too often, inexperienced doctors and nurses are thrown into the deep end too soon, and a baby ends up paying the price. Some medical residents only recognize fetal distress once it is too late.

If your child has been harmed because of a doctor's mistake, you have a right to compensation. Raising a child with special needs or seeing a baby through a long recovery is expensive, time consuming and stressful. Talk to a medical malpractice attorney today to get the compensation you need to help get you through this challenging process.

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