My name is Andrea Shea and I’m a registered nurse. I’m the on-site nurse here at Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys. I currently review medical records. When I receive the medical records, it takes me weeks, sometimes months, to go through, review, and look for potential mistakes that may have occurred in the labor and/or delivery period.
The birth of a baby is typically a very joyous event. Unfortunately, there are many dangers that can occur along that journey towards that baby’s birth. Some of those dangers can be internal. They can be risk factors that the mom has from health issues that occurred previous to pregnancy, during pregnancy. Some of those dangers are external, so they’re forces that influence that safe journey.
One external influence is the quality of care. When a person goes to the hospital, they’re entrusting a group of doctors and nurses to provide safe, quality care. In labor and delivery this care is critical. If there are errors, or if there are mistakes and breakdowns in that care, it can have a devastating, lifelong effect.
One type of error I’d like to discuss specifically is the communication failure. Doctors and nurses are required to communicate a lot of important information to one another during the course of a pregnancy and specifically during the course of a labor and delivery. There’s failure for doctors to communicate important information to nurses. There’s failure for nurses to convey important information to doctors, but there’s also failure for doctors to convey information to other doctors.
Typically a primary obstetrician does not spend the entirety of a labor at the bedside. Most often, that obstetrician, or that primary doctor, is coming in and out of that labor room and assessing that patient periodically. The doctor entrusts that management and that care of the patient to the nurse, but also to other physicians. Sometimes the patients aware of multiple providers and sometimes they’re not. The hospital is required to have physician on-site at all times. Sometimes that physician is a partner of the provider and the patient may be familiar with them. Sometimes it’s a medical resident team with a supervising doctor. They may see the residents and they may never meet that supervising physician.
Regardless of the team, the team is required and responsible for communicating with one another. If a nurse is concerned about a finding, if there’s a change in the baby’s heart rate or change in the mom’s blood pressure that’s concerning, she’s required to not only document that, but also to convey that information to all the doctors that are caring for that patient. When a nurse fails to report important findings or changes in that clinical status, that is a communication failure and that can lead to a preventable birth injury. Doctors are also responsible. They’re responsible for responding to nurses’ concerns, providing immediate bedside evaluation, specifically from them or from a covering physician. If a doctor does not respond to a nurses communication, that is another example of a communication failure. If a doctor does not convey important information to another covering physician, that could also lead to a preventable birth injury.
If a baby does not get enough oxygen during the labor delivery period it can cause a preventable birth injury called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). If a baby did suffer that type of injury and is not treated promptly, if that information is not communicated, then the results can be lifelong injury, permanent disability, and devastation for the entire family.
The team at Michigan Cerebral Palsy attorneys have fought for many families that have been affected by communication errors and birth injury. For a free case review, you can reach one of our attorneys at (888) 592-1857 or please fill out the contact form on this website and one of our attorneys will get back to you.