Parents spend months preparing for the arrival of their new child to ensure that the child, upon arrival into the world, is secure and healthy. Part of that preparation is partnering with doctors and nurses to ensure a smooth and safe birthing process. Despite this preparation, serious birth injuries affect about 1.5% of US births, that is 60,000 births of the 4 million in the US every year. Birth injuries not only take an emotional toll on the child and its family, but also add a financial burden when paying for the initial and ongoing treatment. The distress that these birth injuries cause become significantly more disturbing given that the large majority of those injuries are preventable.
The Department of Health and Human Services estimated that approximately 30% of all birth injuries are, in fact, preventable. The top cause of these preventable injuries was a lack of or miscommunication between a mother’s birthing team. That could be anything from a misunderstanding of a diagnosis, prescribing the incorrect medications to failing to recognize definitive signs of fetal distress.
To proactively combat these errors, many hospitals have joined the Premier Perinatal Safety Initiative (PPSI). This initiative was created in 2008 to improve the communication between delivery team members as well as assess the hospitals’ culture around safety. Much of the initiative’s work surrounds the implementation of training procedures to create a cohesive delivery team in which clear roles and responsibilities are predefined to negate mistakes. PPSI’s work also focuses on clear practices for communication between doctors and nurses and across shift changes.
Much of PPSI’s process reengineering focuses on five areas which, historically, have caused the highest instances of birth injury:
- Failure to recognize signs of fetal distress
- Delayed caesarian sections,
- The use of improper techniques for resuscitation
- The misuse of drugs such as Pitocin to induce labor
- Unnecessary use of tools such as forceps or vacuums.
Unfortunately, despite the increase in PPSI programs nationwide and the prevalence of medical precautions, preventable errors still occur in one out of three births.
It is the professional and legal obligation of a medical team to provide you care that minimizes the instances in which errors such as birth injuries occur. If you or your child has been injured during the pregnancy, birth or postnatal care process, you may be entitled to financial compensation to cover costs and suffering associated to the injury.