Could Failure To Diagnose Jaundice Be A Birth Injury?

BIKLaw Medical Malpractice Lawyer > Birth Injury > Could Failure To Diagnose Jaundice Be A Birth Injury?

If your newborn has suffered a birth injury, it is very possible that you feel overburdened, stressed, devastated, and potentially helpless.  Taking care of a child with a birth injury can be devastating on both an emotional and a financial level. If your child has an injury or a condition caused by the doctor delaying the diagnosis of jaundice or failing to treat it promptly and adequately, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim against the medical doctor or hospital. 

While there is no way to prevent neonatal jaundice completely, the early detection and treatment of the condition are necessary to keep the situation from being dangerous for the infant. You need to know about jaundice and understand how it can be linked to birth injuries that are devastating if the condition is not addressed promptly. 

What is Jaundice?

Jaundice, also known as hyperbilirubinemia, often shows up in newborns after birth. It leads to a yellowish complexion caused by a buildup of a protein called bilirubin in the bloodstream. Usually, this buildup of bilirubin is harmless and will resolve itself, but if the bilirubin increases to a dangerous level, it can accumulate in the infant’s brain tissue and cause a condition known as kernicterus, which is a kind of brain damage.  Kernicterus causes neurological impairment and possibly cerebral palsy, which is the child’s inability to control muscle movement in the legs, face, arms, and body and can be attributed to learning disabilities, deafness, or other problems. 

Jaundice can present itself just hours after birth, but it can be several days later before it is evident. Common symptoms of jaundice include:

  • Lethargy
  • Yellowing of the skin
  • Poor feeding 
  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes

Medical Malpractice Claims From Jaundice 

Jaundice can be treated effectively and efficiently when it is diagnosed early.  Only rarely does it escalate into a dangerous and possibly fatal condition. If the medical provider does not recognize the symptoms and warning signs on time or does not perform medical testing and follow-up care, jaundice can escalate to a more advanced condition. 

Failure to treat jaundice before it advances to kernicterus can lead to lifelong suffering for the newborn child, which could include neurological damage or brain damage. It could even lead to death.  If and when a healthcare provider fails to perform any essential steps in the management of neonatal jaundice, he or she could be subject to a claim for medical malpractice.  More specifically, the physician is required to do each of the following:

  • Conduct a bilirubin test
  • Examine the newborn for jaundice 
  • Treat an infant exhibiting dangerous bilirubin levels 

If your child has suffered because of a medical provider’s negligence, you should speak with a medical malpractice attorney. Call the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., for a free initial consultation. 

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