If you look at the label on almost any medication, you will see instructions for pregnant to consult with their doctor or health care professional prior to using. Many of us are aware of a handful of drugs that can result in serious injuries for newborn infants. Recently the FDA has warned about the use of drugs including Topamax, Tylenol with codeine (the non-codeine variety is considered safe by most experts) and Haldol.
While doctors in delivery rooms have to rely upon their instincts, overconfidence can sometimes blind them to potential risks inherent in their practices. This overconfidence may also foster an environment where junior medical personnel do not feel empowered to speak up when they think there is a potential danger of death or injury during a birth.
Many medical malpractice cases come down to whether or not the doctor or hospital deviated from the standard of care required for a particular procedure. Expert witnesses can play a particularly important role in cases where a mother or newborn is injured or killed during the birth.
Infants who are born prior to 37 weeks of gestation are considered premature. More than one-half million infants are born prematurely in the United States each year, according to an article in The Nation's Health journal. Pre-term birth is the number one cause of death for newborn infants and can also greatly increase the risk of disabilities that may affect children for their entire lives, including cerebral palsy and learning disabilities.
In September 2009 when an expectant mother went into labor, neither she nor her husband knew very much about vacuum extraction devices sometimes used during difficult labor. The labor went on for hours as the mother continued to push, at some point the doctor determined that the labor was not progressing. The mother expected that would keep pushing until her baby arrived. Instead the doctor called for the vacuum extraction device.
A new study to be published in the Journal of Pediatrics concludes that a decrease in the percentage of infants diagnosed with cerebral palsy indicates that the level of care that infants receive after, during and prior to birth has improved over the last 15 years.
For years doctors have prescribed a type of progesterone to pregnant women who were considered to be at high risk for premature delivery. Generally the cost of that medication was about $10 per dose and was made by specialty pharmacies.
Last week in this space we talked about the serious risk posed to newborn infants, particularly those babies that are born prematurely, of excessive exposure to radiation from unnecessary and improperly administered x-rays and CT scans. Unfortunately this is not a unique problem that occurred at one single hospital, patients across the country are receiving dangerous levels of radiation due to improper techniques.
X-rays and other advanced radiological techniques can provide doctors with vital information to treat their patients. But, as you likely know, x-rays utilize radiation that can increase cancer risks. This can be an serious risk for infants that are born prematurely and often require multiple radiological examinations. While proper shielding and protection is vitally important to protect this neo-natal population, a story in the New York Times says that too often these protections are not in place.
A new study indicates that women who are given control of the amount of medication administered by an epidural use less than women who are administered a continuous amount. This revelation is important as the higher levels of the medications provided by an epidural are associated with an increased instance of assisted deliveries using vacuum or forceps, prolonged labor and a higher frequency in cesarean section births.