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Difficulties diagnosing fetal distress

Fetal distress is a powerful warning sign that all is not well in a pregnancy or during labor, and Massachusetts health care providers must be able to recognize the warning signs and respond rapidly to protect the health of you and your baby. However, there remains a great deal of confusion surrounding the concept of fetal distress in the medical field today, and the potential for mistakes is high. We at Donovan O’Connor and Dodig, LLP, understand how state and federal laws protect expecting mothers from physician errors.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the terms “birth asphyxia” and “fetal distress” are often used synonymously. Indeed, the confusion was significant enough to cause the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to recommend a shift in the lexicon to provide more specificity for both conditions.

To be clear, fetal distress, or non-reassuring fetal status, refers to the indications that the oxygen supply to the fetus is insufficient, whereas birth asphyxia refers to the actual condition of oxygen deprivation. Electronic fetal heart rate monitoring is one of the best ways physicians can track your baby’s well-being during the pregnancy and identify signs of fetal distress. Abnormalities in the fetal heart rate can be symptomatic of an inadequate oxygen supply. Unfortunately, FHR results can be misinterpreted, resulting in some cases in unnecessary cesarean sections.

The failure to diagnose pregnancy complications such as fetal distress can pose a serious threat to both mother and baby and have long-term consequences. For more information about medical negligence during pregnancy, visit our webpage.

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