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The Crucial Role of Cord Blood Gasses in Birth Injury Cases

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By Luke Metzler

Cord Blood Awareness

As a partner at Van Wey, Metzler & Williams, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact that birth injuries can have on families. During Cord Blood Awareness Month, it’s essential to shine a light on the critical role that cord blood gasses play in birth injury and medical malpractice cases. Understanding these elements can be pivotal in identifying medical negligence and securing justice for affected families.

What Are Cord Blood Gasses?

Cord blood gasses refer to the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood collected from the umbilical cord immediately after birth. This blood provides crucial information about the baby’s health during delivery. 

The primary parameters measured include pH, partial pressure of oxygen (pO2), partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2), bicarbonate (HCO3), and base excess. These values help medical professionals assess whether the newborn experienced oxygen deprivation or other complications during birth.

Importance in Birth Injury Cases

The analysis of cord blood gasses is vital for several reasons:

  1. Assessment of Oxygenation: Cord blood gasses can indicate whether the baby suffered from hypoxia (lack of oxygen) or acidosis (excess acidity in the blood) during delivery. These conditions can lead to severe complications, including brain damage, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), cerebral palsy, and developmental delays.
  2. Determination of Timing and Cause: By examining cord blood gasses, medical experts can determine the timing and cause of a birth injury. This information is crucial in distinguishing between injuries that occurred during labor and delivery versus those that developed later.
  3. Establishing Standards of Care: Cord blood gas analysis helps establish whether the medical team adhered to standard care practices. Deviations from the norm can indicate potential negligence, providing a basis for medical malpractice claims.

Case Studies and Legal Implications

Consider the case of a newborn who suffered from HIE. The cord blood gas analysis revealed severe acidosis and low pH levels, indicating prolonged oxygen deprivation during labor. The medical records showed that the healthcare team failed to perform timely interventions, such as an emergency C-section, despite clear signs of fetal distress. The cord blood gasses were instrumental in proving that the injury was preventable and directly linked to medical negligence.

In another instance, a baby born with cerebral palsy had cord blood gasses showing severe hypoxia. The records highlighted a delayed response to abnormal fetal heart rate patterns. The cord blood gas results were critical in establishing that the healthcare providers did not meet the standard of care, leading to a successful medical malpractice claim.

The Process of Collecting and Analyzing Cord Blood Gasses

For cord blood gas analysis to be useful, the blood must be collected promptly after birth—ideally within the first few minutes. The process involves clamping the umbilical cord at two points and drawing blood from the section in between. This sample is then analyzed using specialized equipment to measure the various gas levels and pH.

The results of the cord blood gas analysis provide a snapshot of the baby’s condition at birth. For instance:

  • Normal pH: A pH of 7.35-7.45 is considered normal. Lower values indicate acidosis.
  • pO2 and pCO2: Normal pO2 levels range from 20-30 mm Hg, while pCO2 should be between 35-45 mm Hg. Deviations from these ranges can signal respiratory issues or oxygen deprivation.
  • Base Excess: A base excess value between -2 and +2 is normal. Higher negative values indicate metabolic acidosis.

Advocating for Families

At Van Wey, Metzler & Williams, we prioritize the well-being of families affected by birth injuries. Our role as birth injury attorneys is to meticulously review every aspect of the case, including cord blood gas analysis, to uncover the truth and seek justice.

We understand the emotional and financial toll that birth injuries can take on families. By leveraging the insights gained from cord blood gas analysis, we aim to hold negligent medical professionals accountable and secure the compensation necessary for the child’s long-term care and support.

In Conclusion

Cord blood gasses play a crucial role in understanding and litigating birth injury cases. During Cord Blood Awareness Month, it’s important to recognize the significance of these measurements in ensuring the safety and well-being of newborns. 

If you believe your child’s birth injury was due to medical negligence, seeking the expertise of a knowledgeable birth injury attorney can make all the difference in securing justice and peace of mind for your family.

By highlighting the importance of cord blood gasses, we can better advocate for improved medical practices and prevent future tragedies. As we observe Cord Blood Awareness Month, let us remember the critical insights these tests provide and continue to strive for the highest standards of maternal and neonatal care.


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