Did Unmonitored Fetal Distress Result in Cerebral Palsy?
Brett H. Oppenheimer, PLLC
This inquiry came from a 27 year old special education teacher. Her son
was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was 2 years old. Mom had concerns
about both the hospital and the OB-GYN and their failing to properly pay
attention to fetal distress. By in large, the pregnancy was normal. However,
the labor was extended (approximately 22 hours). During that time there
were several concerns about the fetal heart monitor (FHM) strips. What
mom did not understand at the time was that the fetal heart monitor (FHM)
monitored both her uterine activity (contractions) as well as the baby’s
heart rate/oxygenation. Decelerations in the baby’s heart rate can
indicate fetal distress. In evaluating a potential claim of medical malpractice
resulting in cerebral palsy it is very important to not only review the
medical records but, specifically, the fetal heart monitor (FHM) strips.
This data can be reviewed by a labor and delivery nurse and an obstetrician
(OB doctor) who in many circumstances will be able to understand if the
labor and delivery were handled appropriately or if the fetal distress
was not appreciated or properly treated.