The 4 Main Types of Obstetrics Claims (Part 4)
Failure to Identify Post-Natal Complications - Kernicterus and Hypoglycemia
We see two types of post-natal complications more frequently than the rest: kernicterus/jaundice, and hypoglycaemia. Both can cause permanent brain injuries if the condition is severe enough and prolonged.
Many parents are aware that jaundice can occur in a newborn, and is typically reflected by a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Jaundice is caused by too much bilirubin in the blood. Most babies can eliminate the bilirubin through bowel movements, but if the baby is not having bowel movements, or for some reason the bilirubin is too high, then the baby can develop jaundice. If the bilirubin is very elevated for an extended period of time, then the baby can develop the condition called kernicterus, which is the elevated bilirubin’s effect on the brain. Kernicterus can cause a permanent brain injury.
Hypoglycemia is a condition where the blood’s glucose level is too low. Babies are particularly vulnerable to the effects of hypoglycaemia. If hypoglycaemia is sufficiently severe and prolonged, it can cause a permanent brain injury.
Doctors and nurses caring for newborn babies should know to be aware of the potential of these conditions developing and monitor for the signs of these conditions. Both conditions are diagnosable with proper monitoring and are treatable. Jaundice is treatable with phototherapy and hypoglycaemia is treatable with glucose administration. Permanent brain injuries from these conditions should not occur while a baby is under the care of doctors and nurses.
Every case is unique and there are many other "types" of obstetrics claims, but the four discussed in this blog series are the most common ones that we encounter. If you have any questions about potential liability arising from your child's birth, a member of Weir Bowen's obstetrics malpractice group would be happy to speak with you.