How Do Doctors Know It’s Time for a C-section?

baby being held by parents

Unreasonable delay = Medical Malpractice

When many people in Nova Scotia think of medical malpractice, they think of a situation when doctors or nurses directly cause injuries to the patients they treat. Things like surgical errors or prescribing the wrong drug come to mind. While these are certainly examples of medical malpractice, they are not the only ones. This is especially true when medical malpractice occurs in the birth or delivery of a newborn child. This those situation, medical malpractice usually occurs when a doctor or nurse fails to identify recognizable complications of a baby in a timely manner and a preventable harm results.

When is a C-Section needed?

Medical malpractice in the delivery of a distressed newborn will very frequently involve negligently delaying a C-section. The question many people ask is: how to doctor know it’s time for a C-section?

Electronic Fetal Heart Monitor

Medical knowledge and technologies are improving with each passing year. This fortunately means that medical professionals today have a greater ability to keep a child safe during delivery than they did previously. The electronic fetal heart monitor is a very important piece of medical technology that provides the doctor and nurse with vital information about the health of a baby before he or she is delivered.

In Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI, virtually every labor and delivery unit in a hospital uses an electronic fetal heart monitor. This devise is attached through leads to the mother’s stomach. At the other end of the wires is something that resembles a computer screen. Doctors and nurses are supposed to use the electronic fetal heart rate monitoring to assess fetal well-being during labor. The fetal heart rate undergoes constant adjustments in response to the fetal environment and the baby’s health. Doctors and nurses are trained to know what to look for to indicate that the baby may be in trouble. Medically, fetal heart rate patterns are classified as reassuring, nonreassuring or ominous.

The natural labor process can continue only as long as it is safe for the baby to remain inside (in other words, as long as the heart rate patterns are reassuring). But sometimes things happen to the baby that cause him or her to suddenly not have enough oxygen. In these cases, “minutes matter” – as doctors say – and it may be necessary for the baby to be delivered quickly in a C-section (a surgical procedure used to quickly remove a baby in distress).

Free Consultation with a Birth Injury Lawyer

We are lawyers experienced at reading fetal heart monitoring strips. We work with other doctors to review such strips, often years later, where a child had suffered an injury during labour and delivery. If you’re wondering whether or not there had been signs on the monitor that would have alerted doctors and nurses to a potential problem, we would be happy to look at the medical records for you to see if there were indications that your child should have been delivered urgently or more quickly with a Cesarean delivery.


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