An improper epidural can affect a baby in many ways. While epidurals are the most common and most effective option for analgesia during labor and delivery, there are risks. While risks exist for both mother and baby with the proper administration of this type of regional anesthesia, improper epidurals increase the risks. This includes an increased chance of fetal distress during labor, extended labor, and issues during and after delivery.
Epidurals are regional pain blocks that are administered intravenously in the lower back of the mother during labor and delivery. This requires the anesthesiologist to place a long needle with a tiny catheter in the back near the spinal cord. The needle is removed, leaving the catheter in place so that the doctor can administer additional medication either continuously or as needed.
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Improper Epidurals Are Almost Always Preventable
While epidurals are commonly used and generally thought to be fairly safe, it is imperative that they are administered correctly. Because the placement is so important, only a well-trained, experienced anesthesiologist or anesthetist should insert an epidural catheter. This is for the sake of the mother, who could suffer consequences that range from an epidural that does not block the pain to a spinal cord injury, and the baby, who also faces risks.
Improper epidurals are generally caused by medical negligence or carelessness, including not following proper protocols or failure to monitor for signs of distress. Some ways epidurals can hurt a mother or baby include:
- When they administer too much of the given medication
- When they fail to check for allergies or interactions to the chosen medication
- When they administer the epidural too early and slow or stop labor
- When they insert the needle and catheter into the wrong area
- When they do not monitor the mother or baby for signs of complications or distress
- When they do not check to see if the mother has contraindications before administering the epidural, such as a low platelet count, the use of blood-thinning medications, or more
Any of these medical mistakes can lead to an improper epidural and devastating consequences. An improper epidural can affect a baby during labor and delivery, immediately after birth, or for the rest of their life.
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Risks Exist Even With Properly Administered Epidurals
According to the International Journal of Women’s Health (IJWH), there are a number of risks to babies that exist with epidurals, even when they are administered properly. When the mother has an epidural, it increases the risk that the baby will suffer:
- Fetal distress
- A longer time under the stress of labor
- An instrumental delivery
- Meconium-related complications
- A NICU stay
- A condition requiring antibiotics
- A condition requiring positive pressure breathing support
- Respiratory distress in their first 24 hours
- Other birth injuries
A review of research from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) confirmed many of these findings, although researchers suggest that further research is needed to evaluate long-term outcomes for these babies.
These findings are based on properly administered epidurals. When something goes wrong with the epidural drug, epidural placement, or epidural administration, it can only increase the risk of complications.
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Building a Case Based on an Improper Epidural
Doctors and other care providers must follow strict protocols when it comes to epidurals, because of the risk of birth injuries, as well as possible injuries to the mother. When these medical professionals fail to follow these protocols or otherwise act carelessly, the baby may suffer preventable injuries. This could support a birth injury lawsuit against the doctor or hospital.
If you believe your child suffered a birth injury as a result of an improper epidural, the Birth Injury Lawyers Group can help. We will discuss your child’s injuries, prognosis, and ongoing needs with you. You may be able to build a case, file a medical malpractice claim, and secure a payout to cover your child’s care and related needs, as well as other losses.
A birth injury attorney can ensure you have the proof necessary to file a claim or civil suit. This includes:
- Identifying the liable party or parties
- Determining what went wrong
- Obtaining and analyzing medical records
- Working with a medical expert witness to affirm malpractice
- Navigating the legal process for your family
- Meeting the deadlines set by your state for filing this type of birth injury case
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Talk to a Member of Our Team About Your Case Today
At the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, we can help you understand more about your birth injury medical malpractice case today. If medical negligence caused your baby’s injuries, the medical professionals responsible should be held responsible and have to pay for their care and your family’s related losses.
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