A new study published in an international medical journal confirms that laboring mothers who receive sub-standard medical care are three times more likely to have babies who have suffered an inadequate supply of oxygen, a cause of brain injury. The study found that if there was sub-standard care during the labor, the baby was three times as likely to have a low Apgar score. Low Apgar scores are signs of newborn asphyxia. Asphyxia occurs when a baby has an inadequate supply of oxygen. It can cause brain damage, cerebral palsy, or death.
The study stated that the most frequent medical errors were related to misinterpretation of the electronic fetal heart rate monitor and misuse of oxytocin (Pitocin). The medical journal stated that the results of this study emphasize the importance of responding promptly to signs of asphyxia. The authors of the study have called for educational efforts among physicians and midwives to improve fetal heart rate interpretation. Severe asphyxia and neonatal death can cause immense suffering to patients, parents and families. The editor-in-chief of the medical journal that published the study stated that ‘Every effort should be made to prevent substandard care through skills training, cooperative teamwork, and ensuring adequate resources for maternity services.’