What is NICU Malpractice? | Scott Goodwin Law

What is NICU Malpractice?

by / Wednesday, 02 August 2023 / Published in Birth Trauma, Medical Malpractice
A sleeping baby with a tube in its nose.

There are many different reasons a newborn might need to spend time in a NICU after delivery. Very often, it’s because the baby was born prematurely, but it can also be because of medical conditions like jaundice, respiratory distress syndrome, infections, and hypoglycemia. The NICU is supposed to be a place where a baby with significant medical needs can get the specialized care they need. However, if a nurse or doctor makes a mistake while caring for an infant in a NICU, it may be considered malpractice and can make an already difficult situation even worse. 

Types of NICU Malpractice

Given how delicate NICU patients are, any kind of mistakes with their medical care can potentially be catastrophic. Medical malpractice can occur in many different ways, and as is the case for many other kinds of malpractice, malpractice in the NICU often includes mistakes involving medication, misdiagnosis, and failure to properly treat and manage medical conditions. 

Very often, babies end up in the NICU because of issues related to breathing and need the assistance of a ventilator or breathing tube. If a breathing tube is inserted improperly or if the settings on a ventilator are incorrect, it can be very harmful for the baby. For example, if the breaths on a ventilator are too large and too fast, it can cause a condition known as hypocarbia as a result of low carbon dioxide levels. Mistakes with ventilators can also cause a condition known as pneumothorax, which is a hole in the lung. An incorrectly inserted breathing tube can mean that the child doesn’t get enough oxygen because the tube didn’t go to the right location or only went to one side of the airway. 

Since many NICU patients have breathing issues, it’s also very common for them to need resuscitation at some point and it’s crucial for doctors to act quickly to resuscitate when necessary. Delays in resuscitation prolong the amount of time a child goes without oxygen, making it more likely the child will develop conditions like HIE and cerebral palsy.

Regardless of why, exactly, a baby is in the NICU, it’s extremely important that they be very closely monitored to watch for changes in their vital signs and to their health in general. But since NICUs can be understaffed and staff might be overworked and exhausted, it can be very easy for healthcare professionals to miss important changes in a baby’s health and cause a delay in treatment. 

Contact a Michigan Birth Trauma Lawyer

If you believe your child sustained an injury during or shortly after birth, don’t hesitate to contact a birth trauma lawyer for help. Birth injuries are often a type of medical malpractice and you need the help of someone who knows the law and can help you get the justice your family deserves. At Scott Goodwin Law, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer who has helped many people who have been in your shoes. Even if your child is a few years old, you may still have legal options. Contact us today to find out how we can help.