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Dangers associated with electronic fetal monitoring

Apr 19, 2015 | Birth Injuries

One of the most common medical practices used during childbirth, electronic fetal monitoring, may actually pose risks to both mothers and their babies. Health care professionals in New York and around the country may view EFM as a method of avoiding serious risks and complications during labor and delivery. Additionally, records of monitoring are often used to avert medical malpractice possibilities.

One of the primary concerns during labor is that fetal distress may be missed, leading to a serious birth injury. Issues such as oxygen deprivation, for example, have been connected with cerebral palsy. With EFM, labor and delivery personnel may be able to identify a serious situation before a permanent injury can occur. However, the interventions used to deliver when fetal distress is identified can also be quite risky. C-section births increase the health risks for mothers in many cases. Vacuum extraction can also be quite traumatic for both babies and mothers. In some cases, negative EFM readings can result from equipment failures, and surgical or instrumental procedures might not be necessary.

Research indicates that continuous EFM can create comfort problems for a mother while preventing her from moving about to encourage the progression of labor. Additionally, data obtained through EFM can be interpreted differently by different health care professionals. In one study, four doctors examining the same printouts agreed on interpretations in only one of every five cases. In most cases, intermittent monitoring at regular intervals provides the feedback needed when a pregnancy is not a high-risk case.

Although quick action might be needed to protect both a baby and mother during labor and delivery, a situation involving negligent decisions by one or more health care providers could create a risk of harm. Parents who suspect that a negative outcome has occurred because of an extreme intervention might find it helpful to discuss their concerns with a medical malpractice lawyer.