ERNST & YOUNG
Jaundice is a condition in which the skin, whites of the eye, and mucous membranes turn yellow. This happens when there are high levels of bilirubin, which is a yellow-orange bile pigment. Jaundice in adults sometimes occur but jaundice is most often seen in babies, especially those born before 38 weeks gestation. Usually, this happens because a baby’s liver isn’t developed enough to expel the excess bilirubin in the bloodstream.
What Are the Symptoms of Jaundice?
There are a few symptoms that are associated with jaundice. It’s important to note that if you suspect your newborn to have jaundice to speak with a trusted medical professional immediately confirm. Symptoms of jaundice include:
- Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (this is the main sign of jaundice in newborns).
- Pale stools (breastfed babies should have a greenish-yellowish stool while bottle-fed babies should have a greenish-mustard stool)
- Poor sucking or feeding
- Dark urine (a newborn’s urine should be colorless)
Who’s at Risk for Jaundice?
Arming yourself with information can help you understand whether your newborn is at risk for jaundice. Some of the risk factors include:
- Premature babies (born before 37 weeks)
- Siblings with jaundice
- Babies with a darker color (newborns with darker color can easily go undiagnosed. Checking the gums and inner lips can help detect jaundice but it’s best practice to get tested)
- Newborns who are of East Asian or Mediterranean descent
- Women who have Blood Type O or Rh-negative could potentially have babies with higher levels of bilirubin
- Feeding difficulties
Undiagnosed Jaundice: What Does It Mean?
Most infants do recover from jaundice on their own and actually don’t require invasive treatment. However, left untreated, this can result in ongoing and severe jaundice. Additionally, this can lead to other long term complications for your newborn.
For instance, untreated jaundice can lead to a condition called Kernicterus. Kernicterus is a type of brain damage as a result of high levels of bilirubin. Developing this condition can result in a whole host of problems such as hearing loss, vision problems, intellectual disabilities, and cerebral palsy.
With that said, if a hospital does not diagnose jaundice, this is considered malpractice. Once it is detected that a baby has jaundice, the immediate protocol is for the newborn to undergo phototherapy. Phototherapy is also referred to as light treatment and works to eliminate the excess bilirubin in the bloodstream.
How to Identify It
A doctor should be able to easily identify if your newborn has jaundice by doing some of the following things:
- Physical exam
- Laboratory test which samples some of your child’s blood
- Skin test using a device called a transcutaneous bilirubin meter
In the event that your newborn’s jaundice is caused by some underlying condition, the doctor may order additional blood tests or a urine test for further study.
Medical mistakes happen all of the time, and it’s important to know what your next steps are if you believe that your newborn has jaundice due to malpractice. When you birth your baby, you rely on the knowledge of your medical team to ensure that your baby is healthy and that you are aware of medical issues regarding your newborn.
With that said, most medical professionals are trained, knowledgeable, and efficient when it comes to taking care of their patients. However, there are instances where mishaps occur. Unfortunately, though, mishaps such as failure to diagnose can be life-threatening for your newborn.
What Are the Next Steps for Malpractice?
If you believe you have medical malpractice, it’s important to note that there are a few things you need to be able to prove in order to have a case. For instance, you have to be able to prove that you had a relationship with the medical professional in question. Proving this is rather simple; however, proving that you had a relationship with that particular doctor most frequently is what’s going to be important. This means you need to ensure that you keep up with all of your documentation to show your track record with the doctor.
Another thing you will have to be able to prove is that the doctor was, in fact, negligent. Not every doctor satisfies every patient in their care. With that said, dissatisfaction and negligence are not the same things. In order to sue, you must be able to prove that the doctor caused your baby harm due to incompetence.
Along with this, you need to be able to show that the doctor’s negligence is what caused your child’s issue. This is because many patients are under a doctor’s care who already had underlying health conditions.
Here are a few common types of medical malpractice to consider:
- Failure to Diagnose
- Improper treatment
- Failure to warn patients of any known risks
Relying on the Support of a Law Firm
If you believe that your newborn has jaundice due to malpractice, then it’s important that you immediately seek out professional help from a trusted law firm. Your first priority is going to be to care for your newborn, and it’s good to have a trusted team who can handle the fine details of your situation.
For instance, a law firm will take over and communicate with insurance companies to negotiate on your behalf. This will ultimately free up your time and allow you to focus on your newborn.
Additionally, the law firm you hire can give you some insight on the award for your claim. Awards for claims vary based on numerous factors such as the extent to the injury and the lack of care from the medical professional.
Another benefit of hiring a law firm is that they have the skills to negotiate your award on your behalf to ensure you will receive a settlement that you are satisfied with. Even more, hiring a lawyer can help accelerate the claim process. Medical malpractice claims can be a complex and lengthy process. However, having the support of an expert will help move things along as smoothly and quickly as possible.
Learn More About Jaundice Due to Malpractice
Dealing with medical issues regarding your newborn is never easy. If your newborn has jaundice because of medical malpractice, we encourage you to contact us to learn more information about how we can help you beat your case.
Who Can You Trust with Your Case?
Have you or a loved one been injured due to negligence? We want to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you believe you have a case; time is an important factor. Interested in learning more? Get in touch with us so we can better evaluate and serve your needs in getting the justice your loved one deserves. You may very well be entitled to compensation.
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