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When a baby is born, medical professionals will take the baby’s Apgar scores to assess her clinical status. Dr. Virginia Apgar created the scores in 1953.
At one minute and five minutes after a mother gives birth, medical professionals score five different features: Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration (Apgar). Each feature will receive a score of 0 to 2, and there are 10 points total. A score below 4 is dire, a score of 4 to 6 is concerning, and a score of 7 to 10 means a baby is doing well.
In terms of appearance, the doctors will look at the baby’s skin color. A normal skin color, which is pink, is given a 2, while a bluish-gray or pale skin tone is given a 0.
The heart rate should be above 100 beats per minute for the pulse. If there is no pulse, a baby will score a 0, and if the heart rate is normal, a baby will score a 2.
In terms of grimace, which is reflex irritability, a baby’s response to stimulation is measured. For example, if she reacts to a mild pinch, she will score a 2, and if she doesn’t react, she will score a 0.
For activity, medical professionals will examine the baby’s muscle tone. If she has spontaneous and active movements, she will receive a high score.
If a baby is breathing well, she will let out a loud cry and score high, but if she is not well, she may let out a weak cry or have irregular breathing and score low.
The most important features are the infant’s heart rate and ability to breathe. If the infant scores well on both of these, the other scores will probably be suitable too.
If the newborn’s heart rate is too slow or the baby is not breathing, the medical professionals will need to do an urgent resuscitation to attempt to keep the baby alive.
Symptoms of Low Apgar Scores
If your baby has a low Apgar score, it means she:
- Has a pale or bluish-gray skin tone
- Has a heart rate below 100 beats per minute
- Does not react to a mild pinch
- Does not have spontaneous and active moments in her muscle tone
- Is not breathing normally and/or lets out a weak cry
Your baby will need immediate treatment in order to prevent injury or death.
Treatment for Low Apgar Scores
It is entirely possible to treat a low Apgar score. It’s critical to treat the breathing and heart rate issues first and foremost so that hopefully everything else will fall into place. This means that a doctor will need to get the baby oxygen and clear out the airway so she can breathe. They will also need to do physical stimulation to ensure the heart beats at a healthy rate.
How Do I Know if Medical Malpractice Caused Low Apgar Scores?
Sometimes babies are born with low Apgar scores and it isn’t anybody’s fault. It might just be the result of a complicated delivery, a high-risk pregnancy, or a C-section. And if a baby has a low score, it doesn’t mean she will be sick for the rest of her life. With the proper intervention, she can get better.
There are things that could happen during delivery that could cause your baby to get a low Apgar score and become injured or die. They could include things like:
- C-section delays or mistakes
- Umbilical cord issues
- Fetal monitoring mistakes
- Uterine hyperstimulation/tachysystole
- Prolonged labor
Medical malpractice could have occurred during labor or the Apgar test. If your baby scored low and the doctor didn’t treat your baby’s issues properly, then they could potentially be held responsible.
You won’t be able to tell if medical malpractice occurred unless you call on a birth injury lawyer for help. They will be able to assess your case and let you know their professional opinion.
Keep in mind that it’s difficult to sue doctors. The legal system puts different shields up to protect doctors so that people don’t sue them constantly. Your case could be denied before it ever gets to the courtroom, unfortunately. But with a lawyer on your side, you’ll have a better chance of reaching a settlement.
How Much Will I Receive From an Apgar Scores Settlement?
If you are able to prove that medical malpractice did occur, then you could receive damages for the following:
- Medical bills
- Loss of companionship and enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Future medical care
- Loss of earning capacity
It all depends on the extent of your baby’s injuries. For example, if she did not receive proper treatment and now has cerebral palsy, which could affect her for the rest of her life, then the damages would likely be higher. But if she suffers from an injury that goes away within a few weeks, then the settlement would likely be lower.
Settlement Offers in an Apgar Scores Case
Your lawyer will attempt to get you a settlement offer so you can move on with your life and focus on the health of your baby first and foremost. They don’t want you to get caught up in the case when you should be spending time with your newborn.
All you have to do is send your lawyer your proof of medical malpractice, such as medical records, witness statements, and photographs of the injuries. You could also hand over notes about your labor that you wrote down.
Once your lawyer reviews your evidence, they’ll get in touch with the defendant to work out a settlement. If the defendant doesn’t want to settle, you can always take them to court.
Why Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer?
You wanted to have a normal birth and a healthy baby. Now, you’re treating your baby for an injury that may have been preventable, and you have massive medical bills to pay on top of everything else. With a birth injury lawyer on your side, you could receive the compensation you deserve so you can focus on your baby during this critical time.
Apgar Scores Birth Injury Attorneys
If your baby had low Apgar scores and you believe medical malpractice is to blame, don’t hesitate to reach out to the lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian today to pursue a settlement.
Contact Gilman & Bedigian 24/7 for a free consultation at (800) 529-6162.