Doctors Ignored Late Decelerations – Can You Sue?

At around 8 weeks of pregnancy, parents can hear their baby’s heartbeat for the first time. At each checkup, they’ll smile each time they hear that tiny thump–thump–thump. It’s a sign of life. A baby’s way of saying “all’s well in here!” But during birth, some babies exhibit a worrisome heartbeat change called late decelerations. If a negligent doctor doesn’t catch them in time, the consequences can be disastrous. 

If your doctor missed the signs and your baby suffered harm after late decelerations, you may be able to sue. Read on for more information. Or, contact Hampton & King here to discuss your case free of charge. 

A mother listening to her baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

What Are Late Decelerations?

Did you know that during delivery, uterine contractions can affect a baby’s heart rate? These changes can be normal. But irregularities like late decelerations can signify fetal distress. That’s why medical staff must keep an eye on a baby’s heart rate throughout delivery. 

Late decelerations are a gradual decrease in the baby’s heart rate after a contraction. It means that it’s taking longer to reach the baseline. Medical staff must look out for this irregularity as they monitor the baby’s heart rate. They can spot it on an electrocardiogram (ECG), or heart strip. 

An ECG is a visual representation of how the heart is beating. You’ll see the lines dip into “V” shapes when the heart rate is normal. But for late decelerations, the lines look more like flattened “U” shapes. 

Why Late Decelerations Are Dangerous

Recurrent late decelerations are a sign that the baby is in trouble. If doctors allow them to continue, it’s a fast track to fetal distress. Fetal distress can lead to permanent injury. Blood flow may be cut off, depriving the baby of vital oxygen and damaging the brain. At that point, decelerations can lead to the following outcomes:

When doctors act fast, they can correct the situation and help the baby’s heart rate go back to normal. In some cases, an emergency C-section may be necessary. 

The problem isn’t that late decelerations occurred. It’s when doctors don’t recognize and respond to them. Failing to do so is negligence. Standard of care dictates that medical staff watch out for changes in heart rate. If there are any, they have to notify the OB/GYN right away. 

Has your baby suffered permanent injury from late decelerations that continued because of a doctor’s negligence? The future may look bleak, but there is hope. You can file a lawsuit against the negligent staff members or hospital. You may be able to recover substantial sums that can help you give your child a better life. Get ready—it’s time to “lawyer up”. 

Lawyer and client discuss late decelerations lawsuit.

Finding The Right Lawyer For A Late Decelerations Lawsuit

Your child’s birth injury disrupted your life in a way you never thought possible. You feel let down by the doctors you trusted. As you care for your child, you probably have minimal time and energy to spend on a lawsuit. 

But if you hire the right lawyer, you have everything to gain, and nothing to lose. Here’s what to look for in a law firm:

  • Specializes in Birth Injury Malpractice. Choose a firm that has handled multiple medical practice and birth injury cases (and won). 
  • Specific Experience. Ask whether the lawyer has experience with late decelerations and the complications that stem from them. 
  • Medical Knowledge. Your lawyer doesn’t need to be an actual physician. But sometimes they have to wear a doctor’s hat. For birth injury cases, they should be able to read fetal heart strips like an obstetrician. They must be able to evaluate hospital tests and records. In order to win your case, they have to get to the bottom of what happened to your child, and who was at fault. 
  • Access to Experts. Medical experts can offer testimony that proves your case. For example, they can explain why a doctor’s actions were negligent. They can show that they deviated from the standard of care. 
  • Charges on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t have to pay a cent unless you win your case. Zero risk? Yes, please! 

Taking The Next Steps Towards A Lawsuit

Sometimes people ask, “Can I represent myself? Do I really need a lawyer?”  It’s one thousand times better to have a lawyer represent you–and we’re not just saying that because we’re a law firm. Statistics show victims win their cases much more often when they have an attorney to represent them. 

This is especially true with birth injury claims. When you file a late decelerations lawsuit, you’ll likely go head to head with an insurance company. This is the kind of opponent you might call a “sore loser”. They will do everything they can to disprove your case and avoid paying up. And they can do a lot. 

With proper representation, you can get justice for what happened to your baby. Let’s get those settlement dollars rolling in, and achieve a better quality of life for your child. Contact Hampton & King here to get started.