October 21, 2014

Understanding the Risk of Chorioamnionitis

by Levin & Perconti

Expectant mothers should exercise vigilance to protect themselves from infections and sickness. Left untreated, some conditions can lead to serious consequences for mother, as well as well as the infant. Chorioamnionitis is a condition that occurs when bacteria infects the membrane that surrounds the fetus in the womb. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it occurs in 2% of pregnancies in America and is a major cause of premature births.

Chorioamnionitis reportedly starts with a bacterial infection within the urogenital tract of the mother. Is may begin in the vagina, anus or rectum. The infection moves through the tract, eventually reaching the uterus where the growing fetus is located. The most common infections include E. Coli and Streptococci.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Though chorioamnionitis can present with no symptoms, pregnant women generally show some signs, including:

-Fever, with a highly elevated temperature

-A rapid heartbeat from the mother, as well as the fetus

-Profuse sweating

-Stomach pain, from a uterus that is tender to the touch

-Unusual smelling vaginal discharge

It is most often diagnosed when a patient exhibits symptoms, which should prompt the treating doctor to conduct further testing. This may include a blood sampling to check for bacteria. Alternatively, the doctor may check the levels of amniotic fluid by taking samples of the amniotic fluid from within the womb. This is done with through a procedure called an amniocentesis. Your physician can also use ultrasound images to check the well being of the fetus. Even when no symptoms are present, experts suggest that doctors screen all pregnant women for Streptococci around 35 weeks of gestation.

Once diagnosed, mothers with mild cases of chorioamnionitis are prescribed antibiotics to treat the underlying infection. More serious cases may necessitate the premature delivery, in order to administer antibiotics to the infant as well. Left untreated or undiagnosed, the condition can lead to serious consequences, including:

-Worsening infections occurring with the pelvic region of abdomen

-Blood clotting within the pelvis and lungs. This can lead to an inadequate supply of blood and oxygen to the heart and the brain. Heart attacks, brain injuries or death can result.

-Endometriosis is an infection within the lining of the uterus that causes abnormal cell growth. These cells attach themselves to the the uterine walls. Though most pregnancies can proceed to term after a diagnosis of endometriosis, some studies reportedly suggest that it can lead to premature births.

-Sepsis occurs when the body releases an over abundant amount of chemicals into the blood to fight off infection. This can cause severe inflammation throughout the body, decreasing effective blood flow and elevating the risk of organ failure.

When physicians fail to take the standard procedures necessary to diagnose and treat chorioamnionitis, the consequences can prove devastating to the mother and baby. With the assistance of an experienced attorney, victims can secure the compensation that they deserve.
If you or your baby experienced a chorioamnionitis related birth injury, and you believe the doctor or hospital may be responsible, contact experienced birth injury attorneys.

See Other Blog Posts:

CJ&D Briefing Book: The Truth About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Medical Malpractice Verdict Highlights Problems With Malpractice Caps

October 15, 2014

States Refuse to Cover Midwife Deliveries Under Medicaid

by Levin & Perconti

Oregon lawmakers want to implement a new law that will expand Medicaid insurance coverage for expectant mothers who choose to give birth outside of traditional hospitals. According to recent reports, passage of the law will allow state Medicaid payments for births occurring in private homes and birthing centers. Direct Entry Midwives (DEMs) often perform birthing procedures in these unconventional settings and the Oregon Medicaid program generally does not cover their services. The reason behind the decision to withhold coverage exemplifies a common concern regarding midwives and the services they provide.

DEMs begin practicing as soon as they finish their training and certification. By comparison, nurse midwives only enter the field after obtaining a formal nursing license. Though it varies by state, most DEMs obtain Certified Professional Midwife credentials from the North American Registry of Midwives. Despite this certification, most states, including Illinois, refuse to cover their services under state funded insurance plans.

The Decision Not to Cover

In making coverage decisions, the state weighs general insurance expenditures with the cost of potential problems during delivery. Birthing complications can necessitate additional medical care for mothers, as well as infants. These safety risks significantly raise the cost to insurance companies for these specific cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost 14,000,000 births occurred in the United States between 2006 and 2009. While approximately 91% of these births were completed by hospital physicians, about 9% were delivered by nurse wives. Among all midwife births, neonatal deaths occurred at a rate of .32 per 1,000 hospital births and 1.26 per 1000 at-home births. These high death risks lead states to deny insurance coverage.

Continue reading "States Refuse to Cover Midwife Deliveries Under Medicaid" »

October 10, 2014

Infant Injury Data Renews Efforts for Maryland Compensation Fund

by Levin & Perconti

The possibility of a statewide birth injury compensation fund has returned to the forefront, as the state of Maryland deals with some disturbing numbers about fatalities and injuries to birthing mothers and infants. The Baltimore Business Journal is reporting that 2013 statistics show a slight increase in infant mortality, along with a significant spike in substance related deaths among pregnant women and new mothers. For years, the state reportedly experienced a steady decline in infant deaths, so these new numbers are leading health officials to examine the availability adequacy of medical birthing services.

In 2013, the obstetrics department at University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus was closed. In addition, Mercy Medical Center reportedly stopped working with a well known midwife service to provide obstetric care. These changes represent a decline in maternity services and, according to the report, doctors are blaming birth injury lawsuits. These physicians argue that large birth injury payouts drive up the high cost of malpractice insurance.

This allegedly turns doctors and medical centers away from this area of medical practice.
Plaintiff advocates take a different approach to the issue, directing the fault towards doctors who provide ineffective care. When they make mistakes, victims are left with a lifetime of physical and mental health issues, in addition to astronomical medical expenses. Without the option of malpractice lawsuits, these innocent patients have no adequate recourse.
According to reports, the actual cost of medical malpractice insurance makes up less than three percent of total health care costs. Additionally, payouts from malpractice lawsuits account for about 45 percent of premiums collected, while the insurance companies keep 55 percent. This begs the question whether physician's concerns are better directed towards insurance companies than patient victims.

Continue reading "Infant Injury Data Renews Efforts for Maryland Compensation Fund" »

October 1, 2014

The Misdiagnosis of Ectopic Pregnancies

by Levin & Perconti

The family of a 4-year-old Oregon girl recently filed a lawsuit against a health care center for misdiagnosing the mother while she was pregnant with the child. According to reports, doctors diagnosed the pregnant woman with an ectopic pregnancy, a life threatening condition that can be fatal to the mother and fetus. In response, medication was ordered to medically abort the pregnancy. Though the mother reportedly followed the instructions of the doctor, she still gave birth to her daughter. However, the child reportedly suffers from numerous health concerns and the lawsuit alleges that the misdiagnosis, along with the subsequent actions, are to blame.

What is ectopic pregnancy?

Ectopic pregnancies occur when the fetus begins to form outside of the womb. Most often, the egg becomes lodged in the fallopian tube while passing from the ovary to the uterus. It is not able to properly develop and survive. Though rare, these types of pregnancies can also occur within the ovary or cervix, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH). While the fetus cannot survive, removing the abnormally developed cells can preserve the mother's life.
There are several potential causes for ectopic pregnancies:

Continue reading "The Misdiagnosis of Ectopic Pregnancies" »

September 27, 2014

Horner's Syndrome Among Newborns

by Levin & Perconti

During labor and delivery, families rely on physicians to act with great judgment and caution. They are responsible for the wellness of brand new lives and any mistake can make the difference between life and death. When poor decisions are made, mothers and babies can face a variety of medical injuries. Horner's Syndrome is a condition in newborns where the cluster of nerves running from the brain to the face and eye are interrupted, causing facial injury. Also called oculosympathetic palsy, the syndrome affects about one in every 6,200 babies, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Signs and Symptoms

Horner's Syndrome is characterized by a number of signs and symptoms:

***Generally, the condition only affects one side of the face.
***The upper eyelid droops down over the eye.
***Disproportionate pupil sizes result from a constricted pupil within the affected eye.
***The affected eye may constantly appear bloodshot.
***The affected eye may look as though it is sunken in its cavity.
***The baby may appear to have different color eyes due to a lightening of the iris in the affected eye.
***There is an absence of any perspiration on the affected side of the face.

Horner's Syndrome is not a disease in and of itself and, though its symptoms are undesirable, the NIH reports that it does not negatively affect general health or the baby's ability to see. However, the underlying nerve damage may prove extremely dangerous and even life threatening. For this reason, treatment of Horner's Syndrome generally focuses on the nerve injury.

Birth-Related Causes

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September 22, 2014

Mother Awarded $1 Million in Malpractice Lawsuit

by Levin & Perconti

The mother of a three year old girl was recently awarded one million dollars by an Illinois court as compensation for injuries suffered by her daughter during delivery. According to a report by The Edwardsville Intelligencer, the jury found that the delivering obstetrician was medically negligent in his handling of the birth, resulting in severe injuries and disfigurement of the child.

The case reportedly dates back to March of 2011, when the mother’s labor was induced at a Madison County Hospital. The infant was a larger baby, reportedly weighing about nine pounds and multiple attempts at a vaginal delivery were unsuccessful. According to the report, the baby’s right arm emerged first, but her left shoulder was allegedly stuck on her mother’s pelvis. Court records state that instead of initiating a cesarean section, the physician continued with the vaginal birth. Afterwards, medical records noted that the baby’s left arm was “floppy” and a diagnosis of Erb’s Palsy was made. When discharged six days later, medical records noted that the left arm was still “flaccid with no real movement.”

What is Erb’s Palsy

Continue reading "Mother Awarded $1 Million in Malpractice Lawsuit" »

September 16, 2014

Understanding the Issues - Horner's Syndrome Among Newborns

by Levin & Perconti

During labor and delivery, families rely on physicians to act with great judgment and caution. They are responsible for the wellness of brand new lives and any mistake can make the difference between life and death. When poor decisions are made, mothers and babies can face a variety of medical injuries. Horner's Syndrome is a condition in newborns where the cluster of nerves running from the brain to the face and eye are interrupted, causing facial injury. Also called oculosympathetic palsy, the syndrome affects about one in every 6,200 babies, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Signs and Symptoms

Horner's Syndrome is characterized by a number of signs and symptoms:

Generally, the condition only affects one side of the face.
The upper eyelid droops down over the eye.
Disproportionate pupil sizes result from a constricted pupil within the affected eye.
The affected eye may constantly appear bloodshot.
The affected eye may look as though it is sunken in its cavity.
The baby may appear to have different color eyes due to a lightening of the iris in the affected eye.
There is an absence of any perspiration on the affected side of the face.

Continue reading "Understanding the Issues - Horner's Syndrome Among Newborns" »

September 7, 2014

New Study May Reduce Brain Damage in Premature Babies

by Levin & Perconti

Premature births occur when babies are born prior to 37 weeks of gestation. The condition occurs for a number of different reasons, including mistakes or negligence by medical professionals. Mothers of premature babies deal with significant anxieties and fears. Along with the natural worries of any new mother, they are also faced with the possibility that their babies may not survive. This is because preemies are at an extreme risk due to the numerous complications that accompany premature births. Immature lungs are one of the most dangerous issues, often leading to traumatic brain injuries. According to a recent report by Fox News, researchers are working on a hormone to protect the brains of premature babies.

The American Pregnancy Association explains that the lungs of a fetus generally mature around the 36th week of gestation. When it is necessary to deliver a baby prior to this time, the physician may make the decision to inject the fetus with steroids that make the lungs develop at a faster rate. Conditions related to immature lungs include:

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August 28, 2014

A Hidden Problem - America's Maternal Death Rate

by Levin & Perconti

It is undeniable that the United States is a world leader, but there is one area where standing out is not something to brag about. According to a report in Medical Express, America is one of only eight countries where the rate of maternal deaths is on the increase. While the United States averaged 12 deaths out of 10,000 live births between 1988 and 1992, that ratio reportedly increased to 28 deaths per 10,000 live births between the years of 2008 and 2012. The United States was the 29th safest country for giving birth in 2005. According to reports, it has now descended to the 60th safest country. This research suggests that the maternal death rate in America is moving in the wrong direction.

The article gives a number of reasons for the country's high rate of maternal deaths:

Continue reading "A Hidden Problem - America's Maternal Death Rate" »

August 20, 2014

Dangerous Medical Equipment - Litigating a Surgical Mesh Injury

by Levin & Perconti

Surgical mesh is a medical device that is used to treat a number of health complications in female patients. The material is inserted into the pelvis for the purpose of strengthening its walls. This prevents the bladder and reproductive organs from slipping down into the vaginal area. Though this material is commonly used, it's come under extensive scrutiny. According to a report by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the surgical mesh has been a safety concern for more than three years. Thousands of women report painful side effects and complications with the device, resulting in numerous lawsuits.

Adverse Reactions to Surgical Mesh

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August 15, 2014

Medical Malpractice in Illinois - Wrong-Site Medical Errors Lead to Liability

by Levin & Perconti

According to a report by Medscape, wrong site surgery errors occur approximately 40 times every week. This number is alarming and demonstrates the level of risk that patients endure when undergoing a surgical procedure. The reasons for the high percentage of mistakes are numerous and problems persist even as prevention efforts are made.

Wrong-site errors manifest in a number of different ways. Doctors may operate on the wrong side of the body. For example, a physician may replace a left hip, though the right hip was scheduled for surgery. Errors can also occur on the correct side of the body, but in an incorrect location. The surgeon may operate on the wrong toe of the correct foot or an incorrect muscle. Lastly, the National Institute of Health (NIH) advises that the incorrect procedure may occur. The physician may mistakenly perform a muscle resection, rather than a recession.

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August 7, 2014

Stay Mindful - The Prevalence of Depression During Pregnancy

by Levin & Perconti

While much attention is given to the dangers of postpartum depression, far less is known about the risk of depression during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), this is a common problem that reportedly affects one tenth of all pregnant women. Left untreated, depression can negatively affect the health of the unborn child.

Experts at Kaiser Permanente recently conducted a study about depression in nearly 800 pregnant women. They reportedly found that more than 40% of the women exemplified depression symptoms. Of that number, half of the symptoms were severe. After tracking the women through labor and delivery, they found that the depressed mothers were twice as likely to deliver before the 37th week of gestation.

Continue reading "Stay Mindful - The Prevalence of Depression During Pregnancy" »