Cleveland Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Our attorneys are skilled in handling neonatal injuries caused by improper ventilation
The birth of a child should be one of the happiest, most exciting times in a parent’s life. Unfortunately, sometimes babies are born with complications, and sometimes doctors and medical professionals make mistakes that cause injuries to newborns. At The Eisen Law Firm, our Cleveland medical malpractice attorneys have decades of experience handling birth injury claims and are available to fight for your family.
Babies may spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, for a number of reasons. These include:
- Respiratory issues
- Heart conditions
- Premature birth
- Low blood sugar
- Brain bleeds or other brain issues
With some of these conditions, newborns will need help breathing. When such assistance is needed, a ventilator is used. A tube called an “endotracheal tube” is placed down the baby’s wind pipe (the “trachea”), and the tube is connected to the ventilator (or “vent”). The vent then provides the baby with oxygen and works to make sure that the right amount of oxygen is getting to the baby’s lungs, and the right amount of carbon dioxide is leaving the baby’s lungs. If a baby is not properly ventilated, catastrophic injuries can occur.
It is common knowledge that a lack of oxygen can quickly cause brain complications, but receiving too much oxygen can cause major issues, too. Overventilation can occur when the settings on the ventilaton machine cause the baby to receive too much oxygen at once or to receive oxygen too fast. If a baby is over ventilated, the carbon dioxide level in its blood can fall. This is called “hypocarbia.” When a baby develops persistent hypocarbia, the blood flow to its brain can be reduced, resulting in permanent brain damage.
Oxygen levels must be carefully monitored by appropriately trained hospital staff to ensure a baby is not over ventilated. If medical professionals ventilate a baby improperly, or do not regularly check a baby’s oxygen levels, the baby may suffer permanent brain damage, which easily could have been prevented.
Periventricular leukomalacia, or PVL, occurs when the white matter near the ventricles of the brain is injured. Injury to this part of the brain typically leads to the death and decay of brain cells, which are eventually replaced with fluid. This type of brain damage often results in muscle spasticity and intellectual impairment.
PVL is a serious condition that often leads to cerebral palsy. In fact, more than 60 percent of babies who have PVL end up with a cerebral palsy diagnosis. Although intrauterine infections are a major risk factor for PVL, PVL can also occur in the absence of infection if the baby has been over ventilated. Babies born before 32 weeks that are mechanically ventilated are at the greatest risk of developing PVL.
If it has been determined that a baby has PVL, treatment generally focuses on managing symptoms through physical therapy, speech therapy, and treatment for visual impairments.
Cerebral Perfusion Pressure
Cerebral perfusion pressure, or CPP, refers to the difference between mean arterial pressure and intracranial pressure. In layman’s terms, this refers to the pressure gradient that drives blood–and therefore oxygen–to the brain. Too little pressure can lead to a reduction in blood flow to the brain, and too much pressure can dangerously increase intracranial pressure, or pressure inside the head.
Often, after a brain injury, the brain may be at risk for blood pressure changes. If blood flow is reduced in certain areas of the brain, a number of injuries may result. However, properly maintaining CPP can significantly reduce the chances of death after a brain injury or brain trauma has occurred.
Babies may be injured due to improper monitoring in the NICU
Sadly, due to the improper use of medical devices, such as ventilators, or the improper monitoring of cerebral blood flow and oxygen levels, babies may suffer brain damage that leads to permanent injuries. Depending on the individual facts of each case, a claim for medical malpractice may be appropriate.
Contact The Eisen Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation
At The Eisen Law Firm, our Cleveland medical malpractice attorneys are experienced in handling devastating birth injury cases. We focus on your legal rights so you can focus on adjusting to your new life as a parent and caring for your baby. To schedule a free consultation, call our office at 216-687-0900 or contact us online.