If your baby has suffered harm as a result of persistent pulmonary hypertension, our birth injury lawyers may be able to help.
For new parents, nothing is more important than bringing a healthy child into this world. This is why any complication during the birthing process can be so troubling, and why giving birth to a child who is ill, injured, or suffering from any type of complication can be so devastating.
One of the most serious concerns for fetuses and newborns is that they are getting enough oxygen. Oxygen is a critical part of organ and brain development, as well as overall health, and when oxygen supply is limited, the consequences can be dramatic. Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, or PPHN, is one condition that can lead to serious breathing problems and may lead to other complications and long-term harm. If your child has suffered harm as a result of PPHN and you believe that a healthcare provider may be to blame, you may be able to bring forth a birth injury claim for compensation. Talk to our experienced Ontario birth injury lawyers at the Preszler Law Firm today for your free consultation and more information about your rights.
What is Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn?
As explained by the Cleveland Clinic, PPHN refers to a serious breathing problem in newborns. The condition can be life-threatening, and occurs when the baby’s blood vessels do not open up enough, limiting the amount of oxygen that is sent to the brain and organs via the blood. Because the blood vessels in a newborn only open up for the first time when the infant takes their first breath (prior to this, the baby receives oxygen from the mother and placenta), PPHN only affects newborns, not fetuses. Typically, the condition affects babies who are born full-term, or babies born at 34 weeks or more.
Risk Factors for PPHN
Usually, PPHN will develop within 72 hours of birth, and symptoms will become apparent. PPHN is a hard-to-understand condition, and scientists and doctors are often unable to pinpoint a precise cause. There are, however, various risk factors that increase the risk of PPHN. These risk factors include:
- Congenital disorders;
- Congenital heart disorder;
- Low body temperature;
- Meconium aspiration (the inhalation of fetal bowel movements prior to birth); and
- Respiratory distress syndrome, which refers to difficulty in breathing for infants with underdeveloped lungs.
Signs and Symptoms of PPHN
When a newborn first enters the world, it is important that he or she is closely monitored; newborn life is delicate, and conditions like PPHN can set in unexpectedly during the first hours and days of life. If any of the following signs and symptoms of PPHN are noticed, it is critical that treatment is started immediately:
- Blue coloring of the skin;
- Low blood oxygen levels;
- Rapid breathing;
- Loss of color;
- Low blood pressure; and
- Hands or feet that are cool to the touch.
Treatment for PPHN and Consequences
If any of the symptoms of PPHN present themselves, it is critical that a healthcare provider take action immediately to diagnose the condition and begin treatment. The failure to conduct the tests necessary to diagnose PPHN or to correctly interpret test results in order to get a correct diagnosis may be considered medical malpractice. PPHN can be diagnosed using a variety of tools and tests, including measuring blood oxygen levels, taking a chest x-ray, or performing an ultrasound of the infant’s heart (echocardiogram).
Once PPHN is diagnosed, treatment must be initiated. Treatment for PPHN will vary depending upon the child and the severity of the PPHN, and might include putting the infant on oxygen, using nitric oxide, performing a temporary heart-lung bypass, or using a ventilator to help the baby breathe. In addition to various oxygen therapies, there are also medications that can be used to mitigate PPHN depending upon the cause of the condition, including antibiotics, blood pressure medications, surfactants, and sedatives.
When PPHN is not treated, is not treated quickly enough, or when the treatment is not effective, the consequences can be severe. When a baby’s organs are deprived of oxygen for a significant amount of time, they may suffer permanent organ damage, permanent brain injury, which may leave a child with cognitive deficiencies and disabilities, or even fatal harm. Even when treatment is effective, it can take weeks or months for a baby’s lungs to fully heal, making him or her more vulnerable to conditions like pneumonia.
Who is Liable for Harm Caused by PPHN?
PPHN is a tragic condition, but sometimes it occurs for unknown and unpreventable reasons, doctors respond to signs of the condition quickly, and a child is treated as effectively as possible; sometimes, this treatment is effective, other times, it is not.
There are other cases in which PPHN is the result of a foreseeable condition or circumstances that a doctor fails to remedy or prevent, or worse, cases in which a child who suffers from PPHN does not get the care needed, ultimately succumbing to the condition and suffering long-term or fatal harm. When harm from PPHN would not have occurred but for a doctor’s error, such as the failure to monitor an expectant mother, failure to monitor a new baby, failure to notice the signs of PPHN, failure to accurately diagnose PPHN, or the failure to properly treat PPHN, the doctor, and any other healthcare professional involved, may be held liable for the child’s harm and the family’s loss.
Call Our Ontario Birth Injury Lawyers Today
Knowing your child has suffered harm that could have been prevented but for medical malpractice is a devastating experience. At the office of the Preszler Law Firm, our skilled birth injury lawyers can help you to understand how to file a birth injury claim, what you need to prove, and how to recover compensation. Our team is here to support you along the way and advocate for your family’s rights. Please reach us today to get started.