The role of blood sugar in fetal or newborn brain damage

 

While brain injuries have received increased attention in recent years,
there are still many misconceptions about damage to this important organ.
One such misconception is that brain injuries are only caused by external
pressures. In reality, the source of brain damage can come from within
the body, such as an error during delivery that doesn’t cause direct
brain trauma but does cause insufficient oxygen which, in turn, causes
brain damage. In the case of babies in the womb, brain damage may also
be caused by factors within the mother’s body.

One such factor, which may seem surprising to some Houston mothers-to-be,
is low blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, in
newborns can be highly dangerous, since the developing brain depends on
blood glucose for fuel. Without enough glucose, the brain may no longer
be able to function properly. Low blood sugar levels in pregnant mothers
can thus be a cause for concern during pregnancy; an expecting mother’s
obstetrician must follow industry standards for monitoring such a pregnancy.

Causes of hypoglycemia in newborns are numerous and varied, and risk factors
include a mother with gestational diabetes, premature birth, babies who
are too large or too small for their gestational age and a birth that
is particularly stressful. Additional risk factors include infections,
poor maternal nutrition during a pregnancy, birth asphyxia and birth defects.

As with many pregnancy-related health issues, low blood sugar in a developing
or newborn baby can have a complicated mix of causes. A doctor who fails
to properly monitor a mother’s diabetes, for instance, can inadvertently
create conditions ripe for brain damage to a baby. Likewise, a physician
who does not properly diagnose hypoglycemia in newborns can allow the
condition to worsen, even when such worsening could have been prevented.

Parents of babies or young children with brain damage are likely to have
many questions about their child’s condition. Usually, one of the
primary questions is what, exactly, led to their child’s brain injury
and who may be responsible. Getting the right information about legal
options can help a family answer these and other significant questions
about their child’s future.

 

Millions awarded in long-running birth injury case

 

The decision to pursue a civil lawsuit regarding a birth injury is never
an easy one. Sometimes, however, a lawsuit is the only means by which
a Texas family can hold a negligent doctor or hospital accountable. Moreover,
the settlement from such a lawsuit may be the only manner in which a family
can cope financially with medical expenses and rehabilitation for their
child. Since birth injuries may impact a child and family members for
life, the stakes can be quite high in a related lawsuit.

Recently in another state, a jury awarded $18 million to a family whose
child suffers from cerebral palsy. When the woman gave birth in 2007,
her pregnancy had been normal and complication-free up until that time.
However, during the birth itself, her labor had to be induced and her
physician issued specific instructions to his nursing staff. These included
making sure the woman’s contractions did not surpass four in the span
of one hour, and also that her Epidural dose should be reduced.

Unfortunately, the staff did not adhere to the instructions and, as a result,
her baby became lodged in the birth canal. During the delivery process
this can be particularly dangerous as it impedes the baby’s oxygen
supply. That appears to have occurred in this case and the child subsequently
developed cerebral palsy. The jury in the ensuing birth injury case noted
that were it not for the action or inaction of the defendants, the child
would not have suffered from spastic quadriplegia, which is a type of
cerebral palsy.

While a successful birth injury lawsuit can never fully right the wrong
done to a family, it can provide sorely needed compensation for injuries.
In this case, the jury took into account the lifelong expenses of the
child’s medical condition. The jurors thus awarded the family $9 million
for care, $4.5 million for pain and suffering and $1.5 million for future
lost wages.

 

How should an EMT react if an expecting mother is in labor?

 

An expecting mother in Houston often busily prepares for her big day, whether
it’s packing a bag for the hospital, selecting a maternity suite or
determining who will be invited into the delivery room. Some women may
have the understandable fear that they will go into labor unexpectedly;
in most cases, this fear is unfounded and the family arrives at the hospital
in time. In some cases, though, paramedics or EMTs will need to be called
if a woman is in labor and can’t get to a hospital or is experiencing
sudden complications at home. In such cases, emergency personnel must
follow certain steps in order to avoid contributing to pregnancy-related injuries.

First, it’s important for emergency personnel to proceed with treating
a pregnant woman with two guiding principles in mind. The first is that
the care needed by the woman may simply not be possible to provide outside
of a hospital – or “in the field.” Secondly, the most suitable
care for the mother determines the appropriate care for the fetus.

With this in mind, when EMTs or paramedics are called to a woman in labor,
they generally must first determine if there is indeed time to transport
the woman to a hospital. Paramedics must check for all signs of impending
delivery, as perineal bulging, visible crowning or pushing that the mother
can’t control. Missing or misinterpreting these and other signs could
cause problems for either mother or fetus.

It is important that EMTs do not assume that delivery can be delayed in
every situation. Even something as simple as allowing a mother with signs
of imminent delivery to use the restroom can produce complications. If
delivery is indeed imminent, paramedics should determine if the baby is
in a breech position or not. If so, it is often proper protocol for the
mother to be in a different position, with her head down, than if the
baby is not breech.

A breech birth outside of a hospital can be particularly dangerous, as
sometimes the baby must be stimulated to breathe prior to the actual emergency
of its head. An emergency provider must frequently insert his or her gloved
fingers into the vagina and manually push away the birth canal from baby’s
nose and mouth.

In any emergency situation, there are any number of things which can go
wrong and proper protocol on the part of emergency providers is absolutely
critical. In some instances, pregnancy trauma or other pregnancy-related
injury may result from negligence on the part of a provider or that person’s employer.

 

Who can speak for victims most effectively in a wrongful death?

 

A deadly medical mistake is one of the biggest tragedies any Houston area
family can experience. Families generally place huge amounts of trust
in medical professionals, hospitals, nursing homes and nurses. When this
trust is broken via a doctor mistake or similar error, the emotions families
go through can range from utter shock to bewilderment, and understandable
devastation.

While families of a deceased victim often present a strong voice for their
loved one’s interests, holding a negligent party accountable can require
immense knowledge and experience. Medical malpractice lawsuits often require
experts in the medical field who can either confirm or deny that a defendant
deviated from professional standards of care. Important information can
be overlooked in a wrongful death situation; even the smallest of details
can mean the difference between obtaining compensation and missing the
chance to do so.

In addition, medically-related civil lawsuits are often against relatively
powerful entities, such as hospitals, medical device manufacturers or
respected physicians. With several decades of experience going up against
these formidable adversaries in court, the law firm of Hampton & King
has repeatedly fought – and won – to hold these types of parties accountable
for wrongful deaths. The firm has handled myriad types of medical negligence
cases over the years, from fatal diagnostic errors to deadly surgical
mistakes
. This wide range of case types has given the attorneys at our
firm the winning background needed for asserting a deceased victim’s
interests in court.

Following the loss of a loved one in a medical sitting, it can be tough
to ponder legal action. Still, getting the right information about the
available options after a fatal accident is often a necessary step.

 

Erb’s palsy: Damage to brachial plexus can have severe effects

 

While some Houston residents may be familiar with cerebral palsy, a similarly-named
condition may be less familiar. A type of brachial plexus injury, Erb’s
palsy is a birth injury which affects the muscles in the shoulder and
upper arm. The condition gets its name from Doctor Wilhelm Erb, who first
described it. The term “palsy” refers to paralysis of voluntary
muscle. Finally, the brachial plexus is a grouping of nerves located close
to the neck. When this set of nerves is damaged during the delivery process,
the results can be very harmful to the baby.

Fortunately, only about one to two out of every thousand babies will have
Erb’s palsy. Still, for those who have it, the basic activities of
growing up can be burdensome. A baby with Erb’s palsy may have an
arm that is rotated in towards their body; the baby is likely to have
various degrees of difficulty moving the arm. Sometimes, a child with
Erb’s palsy can move their fingers but not the shoulder. A baby suffering
from brachial plexus damage may experience loss of feeling in the arm,
partial paralysis or even total paralysis.

The causes of Erb’s palsy are often linked to a difficult delivery.
A baby’s brachial plexus can be stretched if the baby is particularly
large, if the mother is in labor for a relatively long time or if the
baby is in a breech position at birth. In some cases, Erb’s palsy
results from a troublesome birth wherein a member of the delivery team
must actively pull the newborn from the birth canal using force.

For many children with Erb’s palsy, some amount of recovery is possible,
often via intensive physical therapy. Nevertheless, the long-term care
costs can be enormous. A child whose brachial plexus was injured due to
a negligent doctor could be entitled to compensation for medical costs.

Source: American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, “Erb’s palsy,” accessed Nov. 29, 2014

 

Cruise ships may soon be held accountable for nursing negligence

 

As a coastal state next to the Gulf of Mexico, Texas sees its fair share
of tourists. Cruise ships are not an uncommon sight along the coast south
of Houston, and many city residents are likely to spend their vacation
time on the water. Of course, as with any vacation destination, a cruise
ship is not immune from accidents, illnesses, or other travel-related
problems. Recently, though, a federal court indicated cruise ships may
no longer enjoy immunity from certain legal actions stemming from those
incidents.

Though many vacationers likely don’t realize it, cruise ships are often
not completely bound by U.S. laws nor held accountable by U.S. regulations.
For instance, if a crime occurs aboard a cruise ship, it is often the
FBI which investigates the act if it took place on international waters.
If a medical mishap takes place, thanks to a 1988 ruling, cruise ships
are generally not liable for the negligence of their employees, such as nurses.

That may soon change, however. In 2011, a man was on a cruise ship that
was at port in Bermuda when he hit his head during an accident. The ship’s
nurse saw the accident victim, but he received minimal treatment and,
tragically, he lost his life. The man’s daughter initiated a lawsuit,
but the cruise ship company – Royal Caribbean – cited the 1988 ruling
as a reason to have the suit dismissed. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals,
however, has ruled that the daughter’s lawsuit can indeed move forward.

The Court’s decision may send shockwaves through the cruise ship industry,
as ships may no longer be immune from lawsuits regarding nursing negligence
and other forms of medical negligence. Fortunately, those who work for
cruise ships in a medical capacity and deviate from standards of patient
care might soon be held to the same standards of accountability as their
land-based counterparts.

 

What must be proven in a wrongful death suit?

 

Most Houston residents are familiar with the term “wrongful death,”
but, fortunately, most people will never have to encounter the tragic
situation that the term describes. A wrongful death is generally not a
purposeful killing of another, but rather an accidental death that stems
from negligence or recklessness. In the medical setting, a wrongful death
may result from a single medical mistake, such as an anesthesia error,
the misdiagnosis of a fatal condition or a pattern of medical errors over time.

When families experience the loss of a loved one in a medical sitting,
countless questions are likely to arise if they suspect wrongful death.
One of the primary questions is likely to surround the elements of a successful
wrongful death lawsuit. In civil court, what must elements must be proven
in order to show wrongful death?

There are several key elements that add up to a wrongful death. The first
element is that a person’s death must be caused by another’s negligence
and not by something or someone else. In the healthcare arena, this element
can be very complicated, especially if the deceased person had existing
health conditions and if the person had undergone numerous treatments
from multiple medical professionals. Frequently, expert opinions from
those with substantiated medical knowledge must be introduced in order
to demonstrate the cause of death.

Another crucial element is that family members, or sometimes those associated
with the deceased person’s estate, must have been damaged by the death.
Of course, the death of a loved one is always emotionally traumatic, but
there are often financial damages, as well. If the deceased was a wage-earner
and supported the family, for instance, that person’s death can throw
a family’s financial situation into turmoil.

While these important elements must be met in order to bring forth a wrongful
death suit, there are countless additional aspects of successful lawsuits.
In addition to the complex nature of wrongful death suits, there also
are important deadlines for filing such suits; a Houston medical malpractice
attorney
can help a family understand the timeline for their case, as
well as its most important elements.

 

Contraceptive device may have caused pregnancy-related injury

 

Nowadays, women in the Houston area have countless options when it comes
to deciding their family size. While women of generations past generally
had to rely on birth control pills for family planning, today there are
more options and many different types of contraceptives. Since women rely
on these medications or devices to prevent pregnancy, there can be dangerous
pregnancy-related injuries if the products are compromised in any way.

Women who use the contraceptive Essure may be interested to know that a
television news team in another state recently reported on their investigative
findings concerning the device. Apparently, when Essure was manufactured
by the company Conceptus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cited
the makers for failing to report complaints about the product in a timely
manner. As a result of two different inspections, one in 2003 and another
in 2010, the FDA issued Form 483s, which are issued when an investigator
observes findings that point toward a company’s violation of FDA regulations.

Unlike birth control pills, Essure is a form of permanent birth control.
However, unlike some other devices, Essure does not require surgery for
implementation. Coils made of metal are put inside a woman’s fallopian
tubes, which are supposed to allow scar tissue to build up in the tubes
and block the process of conception. Many problems with the process have
been reported, from chronic pain in the pelvic region to rashes and bloating.
The more severe effects have included ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages
and hysterectomies.

Essure is now owned by a different company, Bayer HealthCare, which purportedly
has not received any Form 483s from the FDA since they purchased Essure
last year. Still, according to media reports from 2013, women have continued
to come forward with complaints about the device and many have stated
they want the device off the market.

If a birth control device fails, despite being used as directed, a woman
may face horrendous long-term consequences. If a woman doesn’t know
she is pregnant, she may drink alcohol, smoke or otherwise partake in
habits that can be harmful to a fetus. At the same time, an unexpected
pregnancy can push a woman or couple into making decisions that they never
thought they’d have to make. Women who believe they may have been
harmed by a manufacturer’s negligence may wish to speak with an experienced
Houston malpractice attorney for information about their legal options.

 

Risks associated with breech-positioned babies

 

It is often considered an “old wives’ tale” when someone
believes that he or she can guess a baby’s position just by looking
at the pregnant mother. While expecting moms in the Houston area might
not take seriously someone’s attempt to guess their baby’s position,
the truth is that the baby’s position is critically important during
birth. Most babies are delivered head first, but a small percentage of
deliveries, usually less than five percent, involve a breech birth. This
type of delivery can pose a risk that may result in birth injuries.

Generally, when a baby’s breech position is noted, a Cesarean section
is anticipated. Prior to 1959, most breech deliveries were vaginal, but
later prominent physicians’ groups decided that breech deliveries
should be performed via C-section, except in certain cases. However, the
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reassessed its stance
in the 2000s. The group has since issued a statement that depending on
the doctor’s experience, some vaginal breech deliveries might not
be unreasonable.

A breech delivery is defined as one in which the baby’s feet or buttocks
are closest to the mother’s cervix, rather than the baby’s head.
During an assisted breech delivery, the birth proceeds spontaneously until
the baby reaches the point of the umbilicus. At this point, various maneuvers
are used to extract the baby. During this type of procedure, as well as
during a total breech extraction, there is little room for error and only
the most experienced OB/GYNs tend to perform them.

There are several different risk factors that may indicate a potential
breech birth. The first is prematurity; a small percentage of at-term
births are breech, but over 20 percent of births that take place before
28 weeks are breech deliveries. Additional risk factors include multiple
gestations, abnormalities of the fetus, malformations of the uterus and
placenta previa.

If one has a trusted and highly experienced physician, the birth experience
is likely to go as planned. However, a breech-positioned baby or an inexperienced
delivery team could result in damaging complications. While some birth
injuries go away on their own, many others are long-lasting and lead to
massive medical expenses. If a baby’s birth injuries were initially
caused by the actions of a negligent doctor during a breech delivery,
the parents can contact a birth injury attorney to begin the process of
compensation for injuries.

 

Diversity of brain injuries adds complexity to cases

 

Injury to a person’s brain is almost always serious – whether it’s
a concussion or a traumatic brain injury, trauma to the brain can cause
long-lasting and complicated health issues. When Houston residents suffer
brain injuries, their most pressing need is medical help. After their
medical needs are attended to, they are likely to need legal help as well.

Just as there are many different types of brain injury, there are many
different ways in which a person can sustain an injury. Brain trauma can
occur during sports, following a car accident or during surgery. Babies
can suffer brain injury during the delivery process, while older adults
can also fall victim to brain injury.

Among the elderly, brain injuries can occur after a fall and lead to a
subdural hematoma. This type of injury, which involves tearing of the
veins and internal bleeding, can happen even after a minor injury.

A person can also suffer brain injury after being attacked or assaulted;
a blow to the head may not seem serious at first but harmful effects could
surface later.

Brain injuries can also be the end result of medical malpractice. Sometimes,
they occur during an open surgical operation, while others may stem from
a delayed diagnosis. For example, a heart attack that is not properly
diagnosed early enough may cause injury to the brain. Insufficient oxygen
is a frequent cause of brain injury in the medical setting, so any procedure
in which oxygen becomes limited can pose a threat. Additional sources
of brain injury include medications which are incorrectly prescribed,
or errors in anesthesia administration.

A brain injury case can be among the most complicated types of medical
malpractice cases. Since there are so many potential sources of brain
injury, it takes an experienced Houston traumatic brain injury claims
lawyer to uncover the root cause and begin the process of holding negligent
parties accountable.