Cleveland Medical Negligence Attorneys Fight for Newborns with Sepsis
Neonatal sepsis can be life threatening if not treated properly
Sepsis and septic shock are two serious conditions that can quickly become fatal if not quickly and properly treated. Sepsis occurs when the body exhibits a life-threatening response to an infection. Sepsis can cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death. Neonatal sepsis is an infection that presents in babies younger than three months of age and is, sadly, a leading cause of death in newborns. When physicians fail to diagnose, or fail to timely treat sepsis, babies can lose their lives. At The Eisen Law Firm, our Ohio birth injury attorneys are experienced in successfully handling devastating claims and in obtaining justice for grieving parents.
What increases the risk of sepsis in a newborn?
There are a number of conditions that may cause sepsis in a newborn. Fortunately, most of these conditions are caught before they cause problems. However, if a pregnancy or delivery is inadequately monitored, the risk of sepsis increases. Common risk factors that arise during pregnancy include:
- Group B streptococcus (GBS) colonization during pregnancy
- Preterm delivery
- Water breaking more than 18 hours before delivery
- Chorioamnionitis, or the infection of the placenta and amniotic fluid
Risk factors that occur after delivery include:
- The presence of a catheter in a blood vessel for a prolonged period
- Extended hospital stays
Pregnant women and newborns should be carefully monitored for signs of sepsis. In fact, pregnant women who have chorioamnionitis, GBS, or who had a baby in the past that was delivered with a serious infection or sepsis should be given preventive antibiotics. Physicians can also prevent sepsis by ensuring the delivery room is clean and sanitary and by delivering the baby no more than 24 hours after the mother’s water breaks. If a C-section is required, it should be performed no later than 6 hours after the water has broken.
What are the symptoms of sepsis?
Babies with neonatal sepsis often exhibit at least one of the following symptoms:
- Low blood sugar
- Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or fewer bowel movements
- Breathing difficulties
- Reduced suckling
- Changes in heart rate, such as increased or decreased heart rate
- Swollen abdomen
Immediate medical care should be provided if a newborn exhibits these symptoms.
How is sepsis diagnosed in newborns?
If a newborn exhibits any of the symptoms listed above, there are tests that physicians may perform to diagnose sepsis. These include:
- Blood cultures, which test for the presence of bacteria in the blood
- C-reactive protein test, which measures the amount of C-reactive protein produced by the liver (High levels indicate inflammation)
- A complete blood count, which measures several blood features
- Spinal tap (also called “lumbar puncture”), which tests for bacteria in the spinal fluid
- Chest x-rays
- Urine tests
These tests allow physicians to quickly begin treatment for neonatal sepsis if it is detected.
How is sepsis treated?
Treatment for sepsis is more likely to be successful if it is started early. Treatment options for babies with sepsis include:
- Intravenous antibiotics, especially if the baby is younger than four weeks of age
- Newborns without symptoms but whose mothers had chorioamnionitis may receive antibiotics
- Antiviral medications, if it is determined that the infection was caused by a virus
- Other “supportive” treatment to combat or counteract changes in the baby’s vital signs
Proper treatment is essential for the health of the baby.
If your baby was injured due to improper prevention or treatment of sepsis, call our experienced Ohio birth injury lawyers today
The Ohio birth injury attorneys at The Eisen Law Firm provide compassionate, zealous representation to families of newborns who were injured by sepsis. To schedule your free consultation to discuss your claim, call 216-687-0900 or contact us online.