Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring

Knowledgeable Birth Injury Attorney Serving the Knoxville Area

Electronic fetal heart monitoring tracks the heart rate of your baby during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Monitoring can be external or internal. It will also check how long your contractions are. A baby's heart rate is an important way of determining whether a baby is doing well or not. If you believe that a fetal heart rate monitoring error caused your baby to suffer a birth injury, Knoxville birth injury lawyer Mark Hartsoe at the Hartsoe Law Firm may be able to review your case and help you recover damages if appropriate.

Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring Errors

External monitoring is used as a non-stress test as well as for a contraction stress test. A non-stress test records the baby's heart rate while the baby is moving or still. The contraction stress test notices changes in a baby's heart rate during contractions. External monitoring is performed by listening to the baby's heartbeat with a special stethoscope or two sensors held in place with plastic belts on a pregnant woman's belly. When sensors are used, one uses reflected sound waves to keep track of the baby's heart rate, while the other measures the length of contractions. External monitoring can also be done remotely as telemetry.

Internal monitoring involves a sensor strapped to a mother's thigh with a thin wire running from the center through the cervix and into the uterus, with the electrode attaching to the baby's scalp. Internal monitoring is done to track a baby's heart rate, measure the frequency of contractions, and determine whether preterm labor is underway.

Fetal heart rate monitoring can be done for numerous reasons. Among other things, it is commonly done if a mother is over 41 weeks pregnant, has diabetes, or has high blood pressure. The goal of the monitoring is to determine whether labor stress will place the baby at risk. External monitoring can happen after 20 weeks of pregnancy have passed. Internal monitoring only happens when a mother is in labor with a broken amniotic sac.

A health care provider may become worried by the results of the fetal heart rate monitoring if you experience bradycardia, tachycardia, or a lack of heart rate variation coinciding with the fetus moving or contractions. Bradycardia occurs when a baby's heart rate decelerates to under 110 beats per minute. Tachycardia happens if the baby's heart rate goes over 160 beats per minute. In response to these situations, a health care provider should act appropriately to prevent injuries.

A health care provider's failure to identify that there is a problem with the fetal heart rate (or failure to conduct fetal heart rate monitoring in situations in which it is within the professional duty of care to do so) can result in devastating birth injuries. Some injuries that could arise as a result of a fetal heart rate monitoring error include hypoxia, cerebral palsy, nerve damage, paralysis, or stillbirth. Birth injuries are sometimes temporary, but they can also be permanent, altering the course of a baby's life. Often, treating birth injuries and putting in place measures to address disabilities are quite expensive. If your child was injured because of a fetal heart rate monitoring error, you should consult an experienced medical malpractice lawyer about whether you have a claim. To establish liability, your attorney will need to show that your health care provider owed your baby and you a professional standard of care, they deviated from that standard and committed fetal heart rate monitoring errors, and actual and proximate causation led to the injuries and damages. Some common fetal heart rate monitoring errors may involve failing to observe abnormalities, misreading or misinterpreting results, improper installation of a monitor, and failing to respond to fetal distress found while monitoring.

Seek Advice from an Experienced Knoxville Attorney Following a Birth Injury

If your newborn suffered injuries due to one or more fetal heart rate monitoring errors, you should consult an experienced attorney. Our firm can advise you on whether it is appropriate to bring a birth injury lawsuit. 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 areas of Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Cumberland, Fentress, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hamilton, Jefferson, Knox, Monroe, Loudon, McMinn, and Bradley Counties.

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