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Cleveland Birth Injury Lawyer Discusses Fetal Monitor Strip Risks

The Becker Law Firm, LPA

Many doctors will use fetal monitor strips to check the baby’s heart rate inside the mother’s uterus. The heart monitor checks the baby’s heart rate through transducers attached to the mother’s abdomen. The information is transmitted through Doppler ultrasound and then calculated and recorded on the strips attached to mother’s skin. While most people consider this process very safe, the information could be used to justify an unnecessary medical procedure.

When are fetal monitor strips used?

Not all expectant mothers need fetal heart monitoring. They are typically not needed in pregnancies where the mother has been healthy with no prior labor or delivery problems. However, the fetus should have his or her heart monitored if the mother is at risk for delivering a baby with heart problems.

Some risk factors for women that might require fetal heart monitoring:

  • hypertension;
  • gestational diabetes;
  • asthma;
  • preeclampsia;
  • previous c-section;
  • multiple pregnancies;
  • post-date pregnancy;
  • lack of prenatal care; and
  • tobacco or drug use.

How These Strips are Used

The strips help medical staff determine if there are any variations or irregularities from a normal baseline heart rate. The strips also show uterine contractions so that heart rates can be correlated with contractions. The medical staff can use this information to see if the baby’s heart rate is healthy.

A baby’s normal heart rate is between 120-160 beats per minute. A constant variation is a sign of a healthy heart. Any abnormal variations, such as extreme changes, often indicate fetal distress, but this is not always the case. It can also mean that the fetus is at rest or that any medications used during labor are slowing down the fetus’ nervous system.

This is why these strips are commonly misread. They can show signs of fetal distress even when the fetus is perfectly fine. This often leads to unnecessary surgical procedures that increase the risk of birth injury to an otherwise healthy baby. Contact a Cleveland birth injury lawyer if your child was injured.

Benefits and Risk of Fetal Monitor Strips

Using these strips allows doctors to detect fetal distress and put appropriate measures in place to ensure that the baby is delivered safely. Because there are around 700 deaths in the United States each year from birth asphyxia and intrauterine hypoxia, fetal monitoring helps reduce this number.

In addition, fetal monitoring offers close assessment of high-risk mothers so that medical staff can determine a plan of action if fetal distress is detected. Studies show that expectant mothers who undergo monitoring view it as a positive experience.

Although these strips have several benefits, they may be risky as well. In some cases, they may produce false-positive results, which may lead doctors to use surgical intervention unnecessarily. Fetal monitoring may present other risks as well, such as uterine perforation or scalp infection. Although clinicians feel that fetal monitoring is safe enough to be applied to low-risk patients, it is not recommended for such patients by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Contacting a Lawyer

A birth injury claim can be very complex. There are many laws involved, and it can be difficult to prove that the medical staff caused your baby to suffer a birth injury resulting from use of fetal monitor strips. Therefore, it is helpful to consult with a lawyer who has experience handling these types of claims.

Michael Becker of the Becker Law Firm has more than 30 years of experience handling birth injury claims. He will make sure you receive the compensation you deserve. If you need an experienced Cleveland birth injury lawyer, contact his office for a free consultation today at (440) 252-4399.

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