The Responsibilities Of Doctors And Nurses Caring For Premature Babies In The NICU
It is frightening to find out that you have to give birth before your due date, whether it is because of preeclampsia, an infection, or some other cause. Premature babies are so tiny and fragile; in fact, it is hard not to worry about babies until they are old enough to talk and tell you that they feel fine. The good news is that advances in neonatology have consistently improved over the past few decades, such that babies born at 28 weeks gestation have almost the same chance of survival as babies born at term (between 39 and 41 weeks). Of course, babies who spend their first weeks of life in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of the hospital are there because they are fragile and require close monitoring and care, and it is not always possible to prevent all complications of prematurity. If you think that your baby’s health problems are the result of a medical error in the NICU, contact a South Carolina medical malpractice lawyer.
Infection Control in the NICU
Because so many vulnerable patients are together in a closed space, hospitals are a risky place for the spread of infection. Newborn babies are especially vulnerable to infection, since they have not had time to build immunity to common germs. The standard of care requires meticulous attention to infection prevention in the NICU. This means that most of the items that come into contact with your baby, such as formula bottles and rubber nipples, are single-use, and other items must be sterilized after every use. The NICU limits the number of people who can visit, and visitors (usually parents and other close relatives) must leave most of their possessions in a locker room, wash their hands before entering the baby’s room, and wear a mask.
Around-the-Clock Monitoring Until Baby Is Ready to Go Home
Even the lowest-risk babies in the NICU, the ones who are just waiting until they have gained enough weight and a doctor gives them the ok to go home, are constantly having their heart rate and breathing monitored. Each baby has at least one nurse who is watching the monitors and is only a few steps away. A neonatologist (a doctor specializing in newborns) visits each baby each day, and the babies who require care from other specialists receive visits from them, too. Doctors clear the babies to go home when the baby can breastfeed or bottle feed, breathe normally, and maintain a consistent body temperature; the standard of care requires keeping babies in the NICU until they can do these things. When sending babies home after a NICU stay, doctors should inform parents about warning signs that require a call to the pediatrician or a visit to the emergency room.
Contact an Attorney Today for Help
If your baby suffered health complications shortly after birth, a Columbia personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether those complications were preventable. Contact The Stanley Law Group for a consultation.