Medical mistakes made before, during or after birth can lead to permanent health complications
that may significantly reduce the quality of life for newborns and their
families. In many cases, newborns who are harmed by medical mistakes will
require specialized care for the rest of their lives. For example, if
a newborn develops a severe case of jaundice and it remains untreated,
they may be at risk of suffering permanent brain damage.
Jaundice is a common health condition in newborns that causes yellowing
of the eyes or skin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
estimates that 60 percent of newborns will develop some degree of jaundice.
This condition is caused by a high level of bilirubin in the bloodstream.
Severe cases of jaundice are dangerous because bilirubin is toxic to brain
cells. If bilirubin passes through the brain, it may cause acute bilirubin
encephalopathy, which may lead to permanent brain damage. Newborns with
this condition may develop hearing loss, athetoid cerebral palsy and cognitive
problems. Bilirubin encephalopathy, which is sometimes referred to as
kernicterus, can also be fatal.
According to the CDC, newborns should undergo
screening for jaundice within three to five days. This is when a newborn is most likely to have
high bilirubin levels. The CDC also maintains that some newborns have
risk factors that can lead to more severe cases of jaundice. Newborns
with these risk factors should be closely monitored. For example, premature
babies are more like likely to develop severe jaundice because their livers
have a more difficult time filtering bilirubin.
Is Kernicterus Caused by Medical Malpractice?
Jaundice, even severe cases, can be treated by hospitals. Severe cases
of jaundice can also be detected with certain medical tests. Newborns
who develop bilirubin encephalopathy may be victims of medical negligence.
Parents of these children might have legal options to pursue damages against
the hospital or other parties.
If your child was harmed by a medical mistake, then the
Washington DC medical malpractice lawyers at Regan Zambri Long, PLLC can help you determine whether you have options
to file a lawsuit for damages.