Childbirth can be a difficult process. The strain on the mother and the baby could be higher if you face certain health complications or if the baby is in a bad position, such as if the child is in the breech position or has their umbilical cord wrapped around their neck. Doctors should do their best to ensure a smooth delivery, but sometimes the baby ends up suffering severe injuries and health conditions because the doctor failed to keep them safe during the delivery. In some instances, this could require surgery or additional treatment, potentially involving a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. Miami birth injury lawyer Prosper Shaked explains why your child might need hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment and whether you can sue for the injuries leading to its use.
What Does a Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber Do?
The name “hyperbaric oxygen chamber” sounds incredibly serious, and you might expect that it is only used in severe medical cases. While it may look like something out of a sci-fi film, a hyperbaric chamber is typically a hospital bed inside a large glass chamber or room that can be pressurized.
This is an extremely helpful tool for treating some odd injuries and some common ones. Scuba divers may get “the bends” due to bubbles in their blood, and hyperbaric chambers can help compress those bubbles and get the blood back to normal. The increased pressure can also help push additional oxygen into your system and help treat patients who have suffered injuries from lack of oxygen. Lastly, the pressurized environment and additional oxygen is often good for damaged tissue and is used to treat burns and severe wounds.
What Birth Injuries Are Treated with Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers?
One of the key areas where hyperbaric oxygen chambers are sometimes used in treating infants is in cases where the baby suffered injuries from a lack of oxygen. Asphyxiation, an inability to breath, can mean suffocation and potential death if the condition continues. Even after the asphyxiation ends, the baby may have low oxygenation in their blood, which means that less oxygen gets to the brain, and the baby could suffer hypoxia. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, brain injuries caused by a lack of oxygen, could occur. This kind of brain damage is one of the primary reasons that a doctor might put a baby in a hyperbaric chamber.
Asphyxiation and reduced oxygen during childbirth can occur in a few common ways. While the baby is in the womb, their umbilical cord provides them with nutrients and oxygen. During childbirth, the baby still relies on the umbilical cord, and any damage to the cord could mean reduced oxygen flow. This can happen if the cord is twisted or kinked, or if the umbilical cord is wrapped around the neck (known as a “nuchal cord”). Moreover, delays in birth, induced labor, and inability to extract the baby could also result in reduced oxygen. After the delivery, blockages or inability to breath could also result in hypoxia and brain damage.
In some cases, these birth injuries are unavoidable. However, your doctor should provide you and your child with reasonably competent care, and many instances of reduced oxygen or asphyxiation only occur because the doctor failed to uphold those standards. If your doctor did not catch a reduced heart rate, reduced breathing, or a nuchal cord, you may be entitled to sue the at-fault doctor for the injuries your baby suffered.
Does My Baby Need Hyperbaric Chamber Treatment?
Whether a baby needs a hyperbaric chamber after suffering hypoxia or other asphyxiation injuries is undecided. Many physicians have seen anecdotal improvements in a baby’s condition, but there is no widespread scientific evidence that this kind of treatment is necessary.
There have been studies on the efficacy of hyperbaric treatment on infants who faced certain negligent birth injuries, but the results of the study did not definitively prove that this treatment was effective. Studies tracking Chinese doctors and their data indicate it might be useful, but the data in those cases is dubious and does not make any promises for American patients.
In any case, there is no evidence that the use of a hyperbaric chamber is outright dangerous for a newborn. In many cases, doctors use this kind of treatment to try to reverse the effects of reduced oxygen, which could help combat developmental disorders and conditions caused by birth injuries, such as cerebral palsy. For many, this may mean that it is worth a try. However, if your child suffers a decline in health after being put in a hyperbaric chamber, you may be entitled to sue the physician for the negligent treatment.
In any case, a doctor typically does not turn to using a hyperbaric chamber for a perfectly healthy baby. This typically means that if your doctor suggests using a hyperbaric chamber, your child may have already suffered birth injuries that your doctor may not want to tell you about or may be embarrassed to admit. Talk to a lawyer about filing a medical malpractice claim and investigating your doctor’s healthcare decisions further.
Call Our Miami Birth Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
Many healthcare techniques and scientific advancements in healthcare help make childbirth safer and help protect babies from birth injuries and negative health effects. However, babies still face the risk that their doctor’s negligent care could cause developmental disorders and require additional medical care. If your child suffered birth injuries leading to cerebral palsy or other disorders or brain damage, call Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA today at (305) 694-2676 to discuss your case with our medical malpractice lawyer.