Cleveland Birth Injury Attorneys Explain the Significance of Apgar Scores
How the Apgar score provides clues about your baby’s health
At the time of a baby’s birth, a test is performed that evaluates the baby’s physical health. The result of this test is called the Apgar score. Apgar stands for appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration.
The test is actually given two times: one minute after birth and five minutes after birth. If the doctors and nurses are concerned, or if the score is low, the test may be performed again at ten minutes after birth.
Each factor is given a score ranging from 0 to 2 (0, 1, or 2). Each sign is evaluated as follows:
- Appearance: the skin color is examined. A bluish-gray or pale skin tone is given a score of 0, whereas normal skin tone (pink) is given a 2.
- Pulse: the heart rate is measured. Normal is above 100 beats per minute.
- Grimace: “reflex irritability” is studied. A good score results if the baby responds to stimulation.
- Activity: the baby’s muscle tone is examined. Active and spontaneous movements receive a strong score.
- Respiration: this sign notes the baby’s breathing rate and effort. A good cry is a positive sign. Weak cries or irregular breathing are a cause for concern.
In general, a total score of 7 or above indicates that the baby is in good health. Very few babies actually score a 10. Scores under 7 do not necessarily mean that a baby is unhealthy or in serious condition at birth. Rather, the baby may need some immediate medical attention. For example, if the baby is having trouble breathing, the baby’s nasal passages may need to be suctioned. If the heart rate seems low, the baby may require some physical stimulation to get the heart rate regulated.
Improper assessment of Apgar scores
The Apgar score was created to help medical professionals evaluate a newborn’s physical condition at birth. Medical professionals should carefully examine the baby when rendering a score. Additionally, it is important for lower scores to be taken seriously and for action to be taken immediately. When a newborn has trouble breathing or has other health issues at birth, every second counts.
Although a low Apgar score can occur in any birth, they are more common in especially difficult births or Caesarean sections. Fluid in the baby’s airways is also linked to lower Apgar scores.
If a newborn has a low Apgar score, medical professionals should immediately intervene. The appropriate course of conduct depends on the individual newborn’s Apgar score. If the baby scores low on respiration, the baby may need oxygen. The failure to intervene may cause the newborn to suffer serious injury or death.
Can a medical professional be held accountable for injuries related to Apgar scores?
Medical negligence cases are appropriate where a medical professional’s actions caused the injury or death of a patient. Therefore, failing to properly rate a newborn’s Apgar score, or failing to properly intervene when a newborn’s score is low, may lead to a medical negligence action. A medical negligence attorney is able to evaluate the claim and determine if legal action is appropriate.
Our Ohio birth injury attorneys are highly experienced in birth injury claims
At the Eisen Law Firm, our Ohio birth injury attorneys are compassionate and aggressive. We are dedicated to obtaining the compensation you deserve after a heartbreaking birth injury. If your newborn was injured, you need an attorney who understands the science and the law behind medical negligence claims. To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, call 216-687-0900 or contact us online.