Fetal Heart Monitoring

Texas Birth Injury Attorneys

Electronic fetal heart rate monitoring allows doctors and nurses to assess the continued well-being of a fetus and differentiate fetal stress from distress in "real time." It can provide early warning of impending problems and allow obstetricians to respond appropriately, perhaps with emergency Cesarean section. It has significantly reduced perinatal mortality and morbidity.

Obstetrical nurses are expected to be trained in the interpretation of fetal heart monitor strips, and be able to differentiate a reassuring strip from one that is worrisome. During labor, they are responsible for monitoring the fetal heart tones, and they are responsible for keeping the obstetrician advised about the patterns on the strip. The nurses are the obstetrician's "eyes and ears" until the obstetrician is called to come to bedside.

Sometimes, though, a nurse may fail to notice a dangerous pattern on the monitor strip. She may not recognize a decrease in "variability," the normal changes in the beat-to-beat heart rate. Or, she may not see "late decelerations," which are never normal and, if persistent, can signal fetal distress. When nurses fail to respond appropriately, the results can be disastrous. When a baby suffers brain damage because of something such as the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck, the injury is called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

How do I know if my child has HIE?

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics have published a position paper listing the four criteria that must be present before cerebral palsy can be attributed to an event during the labor and delivery process. Those criteria focus on lab values, the clinical picture of the newborn, the type of cerebral palsy the child develops and MRI results.

Of course, even if those criteria are present, it is still necessary to identify the specific event that caused the cerebral palsy and determine whether any of the caregivers violated the standard of care before responsibility can be assigned. This requires considerable expertise and resources.

Contact Houston Fetal Heart Monitoring Lawyers

We understand the issues involved in fetal heart monitoring cases. We understand what records to review, how to isolate and identify lapses in communication, and what standard treatment protocols require of nurses, doctors in the labor and delivery room.

To schedule a free consultation and discuss your case, contact birth injury attorneys Hampton & King today.