New Jersey Newborn Jaundice Lawyers
Attorneys for Infant Complications from Jaundice, Kernicterus, and Hyperbilirubinemia in NJ
Infant jaundice is readily observed by the naked eye and should therefore be quickly diagnosed at birth or shortly thereafter. Signs of infant jaundice are yellowing of the eyes and skin due to increased bilirubin, a yellowish substance in the blood. In cases in which newborn jaundice is recognized and properly treated in a timely manner, it is generally not life-threatening. In some instances, the condition will even resolve on its own. Unfortunately, there are countless cases of malpractice in which treating professionals fail to adequately treat jaundice, ultimately leading to brain damage, physical complications, and even death. Brain damage and other serious complications of undiagnosed or inadequate treatment for infants with jaundice not only forever change the anticipated healthy life of the child, but it also dashes the hopes and dreams of those who love and care for the child. If you or a loved one has been impacted by medical malpractice in treating jaundice, you may have the right to pursue compensation.
Our New Jersey attorneys have extensive experience representing victims who suffer serious birth injuries and complications from malpractice when diagnosing and treating conditions in infancy, such as jaundice. Medical negligence with newborn jaundice can spell devastating implications for you and your baby, and we are here to assist you with holding medical professionals accountable under the law. Our lawyers are committed to providing superior legal counsel and aggressive representation on behalf of those who experience injuries resulting from medical malpractice, particularly children and infants, who are the most vulnerable among us. We encourage you to contact us for answers to your legal questions about filing a lawsuit for jaundice-related malpractice. Our team will also conduct a thorough assessment of your case to identify negligence and if mistakes were made, we will tirelessly pursue the financial compensation your child needs to do more than merely survive – to thrive. If you have questions about your rights and legal options when dealing with the consequences of improper care for jaundice in New Jersey, call (866)-708-8617 or contact us online today.
Understanding Jaundice in Infants
The body is an excellent machine with an entire system designed to eliminate waste. This is referred to as the metabolic process. During this process, the red blood cells deteriorate and expel bilirubin to dispose of the waste product. The liver then filters out the bilirubin and, under normal circumstances, avoids a toxic build-up of the substance in the body. In some circumstances, the liver of an infant is not fully developed or functioning and therefore, cannot successfully rid the body of bilirubin. When this happens, there is a build-up in the blood that has the potential to lead to serious life-altering medical issues.
Kernicterus and Complications from Untreated Jaundice
The high concentration of bilirubin in the blood is referred to as hyperbilirubinemia. In most cases, bilirubin levels are checked, and if elevated, the infant receives appropriate medical care to rid the body of the substance. Sadly, if left untreated, kernicterus may occur, causing devastating damage to the baby. Kernicterus is a condition involving brain dysfunction caused by high bilirubin. While bilirubin may be high in some infants, the neurotoxin can build up in the grey matter of the central nervous system and result in irreversible brain damage or death. Depending on the circumstances, the build-up of bilirubin can cause cerebral palsy, neurological impairment, and other severe complications. In addition, an untreated infant may eventually suffer from vision issues, hearing loss, and dental problems.
Risk Factors for Newborn Jaundice
Doctors who treat pregnant women and babies should become familiar with the risk factors associated with common conditions, such as jaundice. When one or more of the risk factors are present, they should likewise know to look for signs of the medical specific issue associated with these factor(s). For example, any one of the following factors should give pause to a physician to further check for jaundice in a newborn:
- Premature delivery (birth prior to 37 weeks)
- Incompatible blood types between baby and mother
- Newborns with congenital infections
- Babies born through traumatic deliveries or those with internal bruising or bleeding
- Presentation of enzyme deficiencies or red blood cell abnormalities
Additionally, there are certain diseases and issues affecting the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas, that should alert the doctor to the possibility of jaundice.
Symptoms of Jaundice
In addition to the associated risk factors, there are certain symptoms that all medical professionals should be aware of when investigating a potential case of jaundice after birth. Commonly, shortly after birth or within a week, the whites of the eyes are visibly yellow. Likewise, the infant’s skin may become yellow or display a yellowish hue. This yellowing is present due to the accumulation of bilirubin and may be coupled with unusual crying, inadequate expelling of excrement, unusually limp or stiff limbs, and other physical signs and symptoms. The doctor should be immediately alerted if any of the above factors are present or if jaundice is suspected for any reason. A single test can determine whether there is an elevated level of bilirubin in the blood.
Treatment for Jaundice in Babies and Negligent Medical Care
While certain jaundice cases may resolve themselves within a few days after birth, the prevalence of this condition belies its potential to cause serious harm. The trivializing of infant jaundice is perhaps the greatest danger, as it may make medical professionals less responsive when jaundice exists. For this reason, it is critical for doctors to take every case of newborn jaundice seriously, to diagnose the condition quickly, and to take action to prevent kernicterus and other possible complications of hyperbilirubinemia.
Kernicterus, also known as bilirubin encephalopathy, can and should be prevented. Phototherapy and exchange transfusion are both effective methods utilized in the treatment of jaundice before excessive bilirubin causes brain damage. For example, it is common practice to use indoor phototherapy on premature babies with jaundice, an American Academy of Pediatrics guideline to detect and treat neonatal hyperbilirubinemia. Simple hospital procedures, such as obtaining the Rh and transcutaneous bilirubin values on infants to determine risk before discharging the baby, watching for weight loss, and seeing all infants within 48 hours of discharge, are also recommended practices. If jaundice is not treated or the risk factors are not identified by the medical staff as required, your baby can suffer irreversible damage.
While there are straightforward methods for diagnosis and treatment of jaundice in babies, this does not prevent malpractice from occurring and many times, it is the innocent victims who are left to suffer the consequences. One $46 million dollar malpractice award to a brain damaged infant, among many other jaundice malpractice cases, could have been avoided with such a preventative strategy. It is an unfortunate reality that just because someone is an experienced doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider, does not mean that they always operate within the accepted standard of medical care. For instance, medical professionals may fail to note the presence of certain risk factors such as preterm delivery, congenital abnormalities, lack of breast-milk, or fail to respond to signs such as yellowing of the baby’s eyes. Regardless of the circumstances, if your child’s jaundice was left untreated and they experienced medical complications as a result, they may be entitled to damages for past and future financial and emotional losses.
Consult a NJ Jaundice Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Child’s Case
If you believe that your child has suffered harm due to medical negligence with jaundice, contact our attorneys to discuss your case and find out more about the legal options available to you and your family. No child or parent should have to suffer because of a doctor or other medical professional’s failure to provide proper care for newborn jaundice, a highly treatable condition. We are here to provide you with answers and assistance in a free consultation. Simply contact us at (866)-708-8617 to learn more.