Fetal Heart Rate Decelerations

Knoxville Attorney Skilled in Bringing Birth Injury Claims

The heart rate of a fetus is supposed to stay relatively steady during labor and delivery. A normal baseline fetal heart rate is usually somewhere between 120 and 160 beats each minute. However, contractions apply force on a baby, and the baby needs time to recover from the pressure of contractions. Sometimes, the fetal heart rate decelerates from the baseline rate. The heart rate of a fetus may decelerate from the baseline rate along with contractions. If you suspect that fetal heart rate decelerations caused your baby's birth injury, you should consult Knoxville birth injury lawyer Mark Hartsoe at the Hartsoe Law Firm.

Fetal Heart Rate Decelerations

There are different kinds of decelerations. There are early decelerations that dip 20-30 beats per minute below baseline that happen when a contraction happens. Generally, these are nothing to cause concern because they just indicate a baby responding normally to the pressure of the contraction. There are also late decelerations, which are reductions in fetal heart rate that happen at the end of a contraction, often because of low oxygen. In this situation, the fetus may be slowing its heart rate to save energy. However, if the late deceleration cannot be fixed through a measure like changing the mother's position, it can be a sign of fetal distress.

Sometimes there are variable decelerations, which vary in both severity and duration. These can happen with or without a contraction. They may come and go quickly. They may be a result of the umbilical cord being compressed or may be a result of compensation for hypoxia.

A baby's wellbeing is communicated partially through fetal monitor strips. When decelerations in heart rate and other problems are shown, health care providers must respond reasonably, as other similarly situated health care providers in the same specialty would. Proper responses could include the administration of oxygen, giving IV fluids, turning the mother to a different position, or performing a vaginal exam to determine whether there is a prolapsed cord.

It is important for a nurse and other staff members to monitor the fetus. Any sign of fetal distress should alert a doctor or midwife that the fetus is becoming stressed by labor or is otherwise not doing well. When fetal distress is not properly treated, it can result in permanent brain damage, cerebral palsy, or a stillbirth. If you believe that your health care provider’s inappropriate response to fetal heart rate decelerations caused your baby to suffer birth injuries, you should consult an attorney. You may not get an honest response from your providers, since their primary concern may be their own or their hospital’s liability.

To hold a health care provider liable, your attorney will need to show that the health care provider owed a professional duty of care, the health care provider breached this standard, causation, and actual damages. To establish what the professional duty of care was and that there was a breach that caused your newborn's birth injury, your attorney will need to consult an expert. The expert will review medical records and other evidence even before the case is filed. Along with the complaint, we will need to file a certificate of merit. The defendant will usually present expert testimony that suggests a different view about one or more elements of the medical malpractice case. For example, this expert may opine that your health care providers followed the accepted standards and practices within the medical community, and there was no way that the outcome could be avoided.

Often, a birth injury case will turn into a battle of which expert is most credible. We work with credible and well-respected experts closely to establish liability and the right to recover damages in our clients' cases.

Take Action with the Assistance of a Birth Injury Lawyer in Knoxville

If your newborn suffered a birth injury due to fetal heart rate decelerations, you should consult an experienced attorney about whether you have a claim. We can advise you on whether it is appropriate for us to bring a birth injury lawsuit on your behalf. Call the Hartsoe Law Firm in Knoxville at (865) 524-5657 or contact us through our online form. We also represent victims of labor and delivery negligence in Clinton, Oak Ridge, Alcoa, Louisville, Maryville, LaFollette, Tazewell, Newport, Crossville, Jamestown, Rutledge, Greeneville, Morristown, Chattanooga, Dandridge, Jefferson City, Strawberry Plains, Madisonville, Lenoir City, Loudon, Athens, and other communities in Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Cumberland, Fentress, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox, Monroe, Loudon, McMinn, and Bradley Counties.

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