Improper Fetal Heart Monitoring Complications That Might Count As Medical Malpractice


When it comes to childbirth, doctors are meant to be there to make sure that everything is going as smoothly as possible. They are meant to use technological advancements, science, and eagle-eyed monitoring to ensure that the baby is never in distress and that everything goes well.

There is, of course, the possibility that things outside of their scope occur, but all the same, most events are meant to go as smoothly as possible when it comes to childbirth.

One of the ways that they might continue to watch and make sure that things go well during childbirth is to monitor the heart of the fetus as it’s emerging from the birth canal.

Childbirth is hard on the mother and on the baby. For this reason, doctors are meant to take consistent stock of the mother’s status and the baby’s status by monitoring their heart rates and other factors.

If a doctor didn’t do proper monitoring, there might be complications during childbirth, and you might be eligible for a settlement claim for birth injury medical malpractice.


Medical Malpractice

Fetal distress is when a baby’s heart rate is either much higher or much lower than expected. This typically means that the baby is struggling to get enough oxygen. This is why it is vital for doctors to monitor the heart rates and ensure everything is going all right. A lack of oxygen in the newborn can lead to complications such as infant asphyxia which can lead to problems as serious as seizures or cerebral palsy caused by birth complication.

If you think you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, and if you think you or your baby are suffering from it, please contact a lawyer to discuss if you have any grounds for a settlement claim.


Preventing Fetal Distress

Fetal distress is when a baby’s heart rate is either much higher or much lower than expected. This typically means that the baby is struggling to get enough oxygen. This is why it is important for doctors to monitor the heart rates and make sure everything is going all right.

If doctors discover that there is something improper going on with the baby’s heartbeat, there are a few things they can do to try and help the baby.

The end goal is to make sure that the baby is getting enough oxygen, and this can be helped by:

  • Doing an amnioinfusion, which is a process that refers to the installation of fluid into the amniotic cavity to fix an extremely low amount of amniotic fluid in the amniotic cavity.
  • Administering extra oxygen to the mother
  • Providing the mother with additional IV fluids
  • Changing the mother’s position
  • Stimulating the fetal scalp which might help accelerate the baby’s heart rate
  • Decreasing or stopping contraction-enhancing medications such as Pitocin or Cytotec
  • Doing a C-Section

When it comes to making sure that a baby is in distress for the shortest amount of time possible, the best way to manage this is to perform an emergency c-section on the mother. When it comes to helping a baby, there are truly very few things a doctor can do to try and get the baby out of the distressing situation, which means it might be best to default to a C-section. Sometimes if the doctors delay a c-section too long, the damage to the baby cannot be reversed, and this is considered a delayed c-section medical malpractice case.

Once they get the baby from the uterus, the possibilities open up for what the doctors can do to help the baby. Once the baby is out of the mother, doctors can initiate resuscitation or other procedures to help the baby no longer be distressed.


Are You In Need of Legal Help?

If you think that you or your baby are victims of improper fetal heart monitoring, then you should reach out to a legal team to see if you’re eligible for additional support or a settlement claim. 

If you or your baby is suffering from the consequences of fetal monitoring errors, hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), or other birth-related injuries, seek help. The reason you might have a claim is because fetal monitoring is meant to help the medical staff on the scene take immediate and beneficial actions.

However, if a medical professional misinterprets or ignores these signs, you might be eligible for a medical malpractice claim. The sole purpose of the fetal cardiac monitor is to alert any on-site medical staff of any signs of fetal distress. If the baby ends up in any distress, the medical professionals are meant to use swift and appropriate actions to get the baby out of distress. If a healthcare provider ignores or misinterprets however they’re monitoring the signs of fetal distress, it might result in oxygen deprivation and newborn brain damage.

This is called medical malpractice and falls under the umbrella of a birth injury.

Because of how important and detrimental these types of cases can be, birth injury cases will typically require extensive and highly specialized knowledge to have a claim filed. If you want to see the best results for your claim, you must make sure that your lawyer is well-versed in both medical practices and in law practices.

Make sure that you work with a lawyer or with a firm that has a proven track record of success when it comes to cases involving birth injuries and other similar complications. The PA Birth Injury lawyers at Mceldrew Young Purtell Merritt have handled hundreds of birth injury cases, and have extensive knowledge on how to make sure you get the damages you deserve to make your life easier after such a traumatic experience. Call 1-866-721-8431 or fill out our form for a free consultation – we want to get you the representation that you deserve!

Jury Orders J&J Pay $1 Billion for Pinnacle Hip Implants

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A Texas jury last week awarded more than $30 million in damages and more than $1 billion in punitive damages to six plaintiffs who sued Johnson & Johnson for defective metal-on-metal hips made by its DePuy unit. It’s the third largest jury award in 2016.

New Warnings of Stryker Hip Failures with LFIT Component

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A study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery last month identified five cases of catastrophic trunnion dissociation in Stryker Accolade TMZ Femoral Hip Stems. What does that mean in lay terms? It means that the hip implant device fails painfully in a small percentage of patients with certain risk factors approximately 7 to 7.5 years after surgery. And the $1.4 billion settlement for patients with defective Stryker hip implants following hip replacement surgery may not be the end of the lawsuits for the company.

Big Award for Compliance Whistleblower in Record Kickback Case

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Earlier this week, medical device manufacturer Olympus agreed to pay the largest ever civil False Claims Act settlement by a medical device manufacturer to resolve a lawsuit over violations of the federal anti-kickback statute. In addition to the record $310.8 million, they also agreed to pay $312.4 million in criminal penalties. A reward of around $51 million will go the whistleblower in the case.

Four Settlements for Justice Dept as Health Care Companies Seek to Avoid Coal for Christmas

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It must be the last weekend before Christmas because health care companies are looking to resolve government investigations into their wrongdoing before we leap into the new year! In the last two days, we’ve now seen four multi-million dollar settlement announcements in False Claims Act cases.

Watch for Medical Malpractice Among Health Tech Hazards in 2016

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Over the past few years, our personal injury lawyers have been representing more clients in cases of defective or improperly used medical devices. Although part of this may be due to an expansion of our interests in this area, health technology is a growing part of the practice of medicine and this no doubt has something to do with the fact that we are seeing more defective products in potential medical malpractice cases.

Massive Implantable Defibrillator Settlement under False Claims Act Approaches

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The Department of Justice is reportedly nearing settlements with hundreds of hospitals over their fraudulent billing of Medicare for defibrillators. Medicare covered the $40,000+ defibrillators for the primary prevention of arrhythmia unless they were implanted within 90 days of bypass surgery or 40 days of a heart attack. Doctors implanted the medical devices in patients and then fraudulently billed Medicare in spite of the guidelines.

This is expected to be the largest settlement in terms of the number of hospitals and the amount for a group of hospitals. In 2013, 55 hospitals settled a national investigation for $34 million into the use of cement in fractured vertebrae, a procedure known as kyphoplasty. The government is reportedly using data mining techniques this time around to assist them in their investigation.

The cardiac investigation dates back to at least 2012, when Modern Healthcare reported that the Justice Department was simultaneously emailing hundreds of hospitals with questionnaires concerning their use of the devices. At that time, Modern Healthcare obtained a document from the DOJ called the “Medical Review Guidelines/Resolution model”. It divided the possible scenarios for hospital billing of patients into categories which included those covered by the National Coverage Determination and/or excluded from the investigation, that the government had used its discretion to determine it would not bring enforcement (referred to as buckets), and those which would be included in an enforcement action.

The enforcement action(s) included certain coding errors, patients who were previously qualified but did not have an implantation until they were not within the coverage window, and those where it was not medically indicated. The calculation identified that the hospitals would be charged for the difference between the code they used and the correct code, as well as a per hospital multiplier of damages based on a variety of factors including knowledge, compliance efforts and patient harm.

At least six healthcare systems have already publicly reported the amount of their settlements to shareholders. Tenet announced a settlement of $12.1 million and HCA indicated their number was $15.8 million.

It will be interesting to see how the credit for this victory is shared. It seems likely that there are a number of whistleblowers out there, insiders who reported their hospital to the federal government through a qui tam lawsuit and may be in line for a reward as part of the settlement. The False Claims Act requires the DOJ to pay eligible relators between 15 and 25 percent of the award (in cases like this one where the government has not declined to intervene in the case). However, there are various rules such as the first to file rule and public disclosure which could limit those payments.

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Drug and Medical Device Companies Pay Doctors $6.49 Billion in 2014

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1,444 companies paid 1,100 teaching hospitals and 607,000 physicians nearly $6.5 billion in 2014. It is the first full year of data concerning the financial ties between doctors and the pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers that are paying them. The data counts the value of meals as well as payments for speeches, consulting and research.

Pfizer is believed to have made the most payments with $234 million in research payments and general outlays of $53.3 million.  Some companies like Johnson & Johnson and Merck reported payments from several different entities.

The data comes from the release of the second annual Open Payments report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services today. Last year, CMS released information for payments from August 1 until December 31, 2013. Physicians and teaching hospitals received $3.43 billion in payments during the last 5 months in 2013.

The release of this information was authorized by the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The provision, called the Sunshine Act, requires manufactures to disclose their payments to physicians and teaching hospitals. The effort is to bring transparency, or sunshine, to the ties that might impact a doctor’s prescribing decisions and inform their patients of them.

As we represent several health care whistleblowers in False Claims Act litigation that has been unsealed, and have seen several other settled and currently pending cases, we know that drug and device companies do cross the bounds when marketing their products. The allegations we have seen allege that payments for speaker programs were in effect kickbacks in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Stark Law. Many of these payments were for “sham” speak programs that had few or no attendees as well as little, if any, educational value. Companies were also expressly tying the participation of physicians in their speaking programs, for which they receive compensation, to the amount of product that they prescribed.

Patients should be aware of these tactics of marketing medical products, check the data and speak to their physician about their medications.

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DOJ Fines Medical Device Companies $100 Million in 2014

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An annual report by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services identified more than $100 million in fines issued against medical device companies in 2014, according to FierceMedicalDevices. The total includes fines against Carefusion for off-label marketing, Boston Scientific’s Guidant for defective cardiology devices, Medtronic for kickbacks to doctors for pacemakers and Abbott Labs for encouraging the submission of false claims for surgeries to Medicare.

The False Claims Act is one of the primary tools in the government’s arsenal to fight fraud by medical device manufacturers. It has helped the government recover billions of dollars lost to fraud over the past 25 years. It also authorizes the Department of Justice to pay rewards of between 15 and 30 percent of the government’s recovery to whistleblowers who file a qui tam lawsuit and provide evidence of health care fraud.

In other news, recalls of medical devices have fallen by more than 50% in the first quarter of 2015 compared to Q4 2014, when there was a record 968, according to analysis by Regulatory Affairs Professional Society covered by FierceMedicalDevices. The 426 recalls was the second lowest total from the FDA’s data, which includes information going back to 2013. It reversed a trend of gains in three straight quarters.

The total number of devices recalled is not reflected in this information, however. It only measures the number of different models recalled. One model number recall could implicate hundreds or thousands of different devices.

The fall in recalls comes at the same time that medical device manufacturer Olympus has been caught up in the controversy over contaminated duodenoscopes leading to CRE superbug infections. The spread of deadly infections linked to the device and its decision not to seek FDA clearance when it sealed the elevator wire channel has already resulted in patient lawsuits seeking compensation for damages. Our law firm is investigating patient claims of infections caused by these devices.

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