What is fetal heart monitoring and how does it help?

When a baby is born is it important to monitor the fetus during labor.  The reason this is important is because if you know that a problem is occuring, you can take steps to correct the problem or at least prevent it from getting worse.  You should expect fetal heart monitoring in all hospitals in Eastern Connecticut such as Hartford Hospital, Backus Hospital, Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, and Middlesex Hospital. 

Fetal heart monitoring is the standard of care in the delivery of a baby.

The practice of fetal heart monitoring started in the 1960s and is now standard practice.  During labor the fetus's heart rate is monitored by a machine thta listens to the heart and produces a sheet of paper that illustrates the heart rate.  It takes training to read the sheet of paper. If the heart rate falls to a dangerous level, or it does not respond normally to contractions, that indicates a potential problem that must be addressed by the doctors.  The fetal heart should be monitored frequently in order to protect the fetus and the mother.

For example, if the fetal heart monitor indicates that the heart rate has dropped that might mean that the fetus is not getting enough oxygen to their brain, and brain damage or death can occur.  So, an emergency cecarean section procedure might be needed. 

Medical malpractice can still occur.

In spite the widespread use of fetal heart monitoring equipment in during labor, medical malpractice still occurs.  Examples are:

Failure to monitor the heart rate in the first place.  Even if a fetal heart monitor is in place, if the doctor or nurse does not look at it then the baby and mother are at risk.

Failure to read the monitor correctly. 

Failure to respond promptly to the problem.  

Where to get help if you have a medical malpractice case.

If you believe you are a victim of medical negligence contact the lawyer at The Bartinik Law Firm, P.C., 100 Fort Hill Road, Groton, Connecticut at 860-445-8521 or toll free at 888-717-4211.


Peter J. Bartinik, Jr.
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Civil Trial Attorney, Practicing Law in Connecticut