Antiseptic Can Cause Eye Injuries During Delivery

Umbilical cord infections are a serious danger for newborns. Annually, almost 3 million newborns die, and almost 1 in 8 of those deaths are due to infections. Doctors should make sure that the umbilical cord is clean and dry to promote health.

Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that a common antiseptic used on the cord during delivery could cause serious eye injuries when doctors misuse it. Our Miami medical malpractice attorney reviews what patients need to know.

Antiseptic Should Be Applied to the Stump

According to the International Business Times, doctors regularly apply an antiseptic called chlorhexidine gluconate (CHX) to the umbilical stump to prevent an infection soon after delivery. Clinical trials have shown that 7.1% of CHX can have dramatic effects, lowering the number of newborn deaths and improving health.

CHX is not a novel antiseptic. Many adults already use CHX for oral hygiene, as it can treat gingivitis and other conditions. Patients swish the substance as they would a mouthwash and then spit it out. Doctors have also used chlorhexidine gluconate as a sanitizer as they prepare for surgery to reduce the transmission of germs in the operating room.

Medical Negligence Can Lead to Injury

However, the WHO has received several reports of babies suffering serious eye injuries and even blindness when the antiseptic is not applied properly. Since 2015, there have been 40 cases in the medical literature of injuries occurring when doctors mistook CHX for something harmless, like eye drops. Unknowingly, the doctors applied CHX directly to the eyes.

When this happens, medical negligence is almost always to blame. If the antiseptic is not properly labeled, or if medical staff is not paying attention, then they could mistake CHX for something else. A lack of communication can also be a big problem in the delivery room, leading to simple mistakes that nevertheless have lifelong consequences.

When to Reach Out to an Attorney

Injuries to newborns can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, especially if there is no visible sign of injury. Although you might see that something is wrong with your children’s eyes, in other cases parents wait years before they realize their child’s vision is impaired.

At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP, we recommend that parents take their children to a doctor as soon as they suspect something is wrong. Then they should schedule a meeting with a seasoned Miami medical malpractice attorney to discuss whether medical malpractice might be to blame. To reach us, call 305-371-2692.