Intraventricular hemorrhage and labor and delivery medical malpractice

Intraventricular hemorrhage is a serious brain injury that affects thousands of newborn babies each year in the United States. With this condition, blood vessels in the brain burst or rupture, causing bleeding the ventricular system of the brain.

The medical literature provides a host of risk factors for intraventricular hemorrhage. Some of them are related to obstetrical (OB/GYN) and labor and delivery nursing negligence. Other risk factors have nothing to do with negligence.

Types of intraventricular hemorrhage

Physicians and healthcare professionals use a grading system (numbered 1–4) to describe the different degrees of intraventricular hemorrhage. The higher the great number, the worse the degree bleeding.

Many patients with Grades 1 or 2 of intraventricular hemorrhage have very limited or no other associated complications. With Grade 3 or 4 bleeding, though, baby often suffers a permanent brain injury.

Risk factors

Hypoxia or anoxia during labor and delivery. This is often negligence based on the failure of the OB/GYN and labor and delivery team to deliver the baby a timely fashion when there are signs of fetal distress. This can result in diminished (hypoxia) or absence (anoxia) oxygen to the unborn baby that causes brain damage.

Prematurity and low birth weight. The majority opinion in the medical literature is that babies born before 32 weeks’ gestation have a higher risk of intraventricular hemorrhage. The key figure for low birth weight is less than 1,500 grams or around 3 pounds, 5 ounces.

• Genetic factors.

• Maternal conditions, including hypertension (high blood pressure) and infection.

• Head injuries or a shaken baby.

• Respiratory issues.

• Blood clotting disorders.

Signs and symptoms

It’s important for parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of intraventricular hemorrhage.

From our experience in handling intraventricular hemorrhage cases involving labor and delivery negligence, we’ve come to realize that it may be a week or more after delivery before the medical and nursing team realizes that there’s a problem.

Quite often, parents, doctors, and nurses may think that they experienced a “close call” during labor and delivery, but the baby was born healthy. Then, days or a week later, the newborn suddenly takes an undeniable turn for the worse, often with signs of a seizure.

If you notice any of the signs in the days after delivery, it’s important to bring them up to the doctor and nursing staff:

• A pale or blue color. This is called cyanosis.

• Abnormal eye-movement. This can be an early sign of seizures.

• Seizures.

• The baby can’t be consoled and has a high-pitched crying.

• Weak sucking or feeding.

• Abnormally decreased reflexes, muscle tone, energy, or attention.

• Swelling of the soft spots on the baby’s head.

Additionally, healthcare providers should look for warning signs including:

• Anemia, which is an abnormally low number of red blood cells.

• An abnormally slow heart rate, which is called bradycardia. Doctors and nurses sometimes refer to this as “brady” or “bradying.”

• Breathing or respiratory challenges, including episodes of apnea, where the baby stops breathing.

Investigating the cause

Babies who experience a serious intraventricular hemorrhage resulting in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy, or other brain injury will require a lifetime of care.

Consulting a top-rated experienced medical malpractice lawyer can help produce answers on whether this tragic diagnosis was related to medical negligence or mistakes by the obstetrician and labor and delivery staff.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.