Nurse Negligence and Birth Injury

nurseChildbirth is something that is usually done in a medical setting with the mother and baby surrounded by medical experts who can step in and help out if something is difficult or dangerous. Though it is an entirely natural process, it is one that can be full of risks and that is why almost all modern deliveries occur in a hospital or birthing center. Once the physician's role is finished, most of the care is in the hands of trained and skilled nurses, and yet there are times when a nurse might make a mistake that leads to great harm to the mother or the infant.

Understanding Negligence

There are no excuses that can be made when an avoidable mistake occurs, and especially when it involves a baby. Sadly, there are some common instances when a nurse's negligence can lead to what are deemed birth injuries. These are not the same as birth defects, which happen almost from the very beginning of a pregnancy. Birth injuries are often due to a failure on the part of a nurse or other medical professional and can be minor to severe.

How Can a Nurse Be Negligent?

While physicians are responsible for a great deal more during the delivery process, and are supposed to diagnose issues beforehand or as they arise, nurses too have a lot of unique tasks assigned to them. For one thing, there are nurses responsible for caring for newborn infants, and they must know how to lift and handle babies properly or risk harming them. A condition known as Erb's palsy can result from a newborn being handled improperly, and this would be due a nurse's negligence. Nurses are also tasked with tending to mothers as well, and they must often provide them with the medications needed during and after delivery. Sadly, a nurse may administer too much of the drug prescribed, and this is something known to create the risk for birth injury. Two compounds given to help with hastening delivery (Oxytocin and Pitocin) have each been known to harm the unborn baby. If a nurse gives too much of any drug, this too is negligence.

Mistakes Nurses Cannot Make

While those are obvious examples of how a nurse might fail in their duty, there are some confusing issues in which a nurse is not to blame. For example, when some sort of machinery is at use, and the machine malfunctions, it is never nurse negligence. Though a nurse is always tasked with ensuring the proper dosages are given, if a machine is to blame, no fault lies with the nurse. The same is true of the use of epidurals, which are given to eliminate the pain of delivery but which require a thin needle in the spine. All patients are required to sign waivers when receiving them, and unless it is a nurse anesthetist who does the actual administration, there is no risk to the nurse for negligence should the epidural lead to a complication or birth injury. Generally, there are few risks to infants born to mothers who received epidurals, but they are known to be at greater risk for fevers and certain injuries afterward. Nurses are not the same as doctors; we know that, and so we must be cautious about blaming nurses for birth injuries. However, they do have very specific tasks assigned to them, and when they fail to perform them properly it can often be a case of malpractice or negligence. Parents with a baby who suffered a birth injury must determine which of the members of their medical team were negligent, and then seek compensation for the damages done. Source:  
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