Infant Resuscitation Errors

In the best scenario, infants move from the womb and into the world with little other assistance aside from an experienced medical team who makes the labor and delivery process as safe as possible. Yet, there are instances in which babies will need special intervention and assistance in order to successfully breathe and thrive on their own after birth.

In some cases, the need for special intervention may not even be realized until the baby is born; therefore, it’s imperative that healthcare providers are not only experienced in dealing with infant medical conditions that may need emergency treatment, but also extremely attentive to any signs of fetal distress that may lead to the need for infant resuscitation.

Common Reasons Infant Resuscitation is Needed

There are several factors that are associated with placing babies at a higher risk for the need of resuscitation. Although not all of the following reasons will result in the need for infant resuscitation, they do heighten the risk:

  • The use of birth-assisting tools during delivery, such as an vacuum extraction tool or forceps
  • A prolapsed umbilical cord
  • Premature labor or post-term labor
  • Amniotic fluid stained with meconium
  • Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
  • Large infant size

Maternal issues that heighten the risk include:

  • Infections and diseases
  • Maternal age of over 40 or under 16
  • Placental problems, such as placental abruption or placenta previa
  • Prior high-risk births
  • Sudden, severe bleeding during pregnancy
  • Premature rupture of the membranes
  • Gestational diabetes

Per Robin L Bissinger, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC, author of a study performed on neonatal resuscitation, nearly half of all newborns deaths occur within the first 24 hours of birth, and in many cases, asphyxia and respiratory problems are the cause. Although early ultrasounds and other medical check-ups and tests can alert doctors to the infants who are at risk, it’s still important to have qualified, experienced medical staff on-hand at every birth.

What Treatment is Available if an Infant Needs Resuscitation?

The type of resuscitation efforts will depend on the infant’s condition; however, typical types of resuscitation efforts include:

  • Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV)
  • CPR and chest compression
  • Intubation
  • Airway suctioning
  • Sufractant administration
  • Epinephrine medication
  • Defribillation

When Infant Resuscitation is Neglected or Goes Wrong

As mentioned earlier, it’s imperative that physicians and medical staff are experienced in dealing with any emergencies that may arise during delivery. One small mistake or negligent act can lead to life-threatening health issues for infants. If a baby is deprived of oxygen too long, permanent damage can happen within a matter of minutes including:

  • Brain damage
  • Cerebral palsy (CP)
  • Lower IQ scores
  • Autism
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Physical disabilities
  • ADHD or ADD

Unfortunately, there are a myriad of reasons for delayed infant resuscitation, but most boil down to lack of medical experience and negligent errors. Some of most the common reasons for failed resuscitation include:

  • Failure to detect the need for resuscitation shortly after birth
  • Failure to have qualified, experienced medical professional close by after a birth with heightened risk factors
  • Improper infant resuscitation techniques

Furthermore, malfunction of resuscitation machines can cause long-term harm to babies. In February of 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Class I recall on the GE Resuscitation System, commonly known by the brand names of Giraffe Warmer and Panda Warmer. According to the manufacturers, there was a possible error during the manufacturing process of the systems, leading to inaccurate amounts of oxygen delivery to infants. If infants don’t receive adequate oxygen while using the resuscitation system, death may follow. The recall includes:

  • Giraffe Warmer Resuscitation Systems
  • Panda Freestanding with Resuscitation Systems
  • Panda Warmer with Resuscitation Systems
  • Giraffe Stand-Alone Infant Resuscitation Systems
  • Resuscitation System Upgrade Kits