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Medical Negligence & the Apgar Test

Labor can be grueling, for both mother and child. To identify whether the baby has any heart or breathing problems, the doctor will perform an Apgar test immediately after delivery and again at the five-minute mark.

The Apgar test is named after Virginia Apgar, the doctor who invented it. Unfortunately, doctors sometimes can botch this test and fail to diagnose a problem with your baby.

Apgar Test Explained

The Apgar test looks at five factors and gives a baby a score of 0 to 2 on each factor. In total, a baby can earn 10 points. Any score under 7 indicates a problem. The five factors are:

  • Heart rate. Using a stethoscope, the doctor will listen to the baby’s heart. If there is no heartbeat, the baby scores a 0; if the heart beats less than 100 times in a minute, the baby scores a 1; and if there are more than 100 beats a minute, the baby scores a 2.
  • Breathing. A baby gets a 0 if they are not breathing, a 1 if they are breathing slowly or irregularly, and a 2 if they are crying and breathing well.
  • Grimace. A doctor can test reflexes by pinching the baby. If the baby exhibits no reaction, then the baby gets a 0; if the baby grimaces, they earn a 1; if they grimace and sneeze, cough, or cry vigorously, they get a 2.
  • Muscle tone. Loose and fluid muscles earn a 0; some muscle tone earns a 1; active movement earns a 2.
  • Skin color. If your baby’s skin color is pale blue, they earn a 0; if their body is pink but hands and feet are blue, they earn a 1; if the entire body is pink, the baby earns a 2.

Botched Apgar Tests

A negligent doctor might fail to properly perform the test or neglect to perform it at all. As a result, a baby can be denied vital life-saving treatment that can address any problems. For example, a baby who scores low on the Apgar is at risk of developing hypoxic and anoxic brain injuries due to poor circulation or lack of oxygen. As a result, children can experience the following:

  • Developmental delays
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Impaired vision
  • Motor weakness and spastic limbs
  • Poor processing
  • Cognitive deficit

In extreme cases, babies can die. These injuries are often avoidable if the child receives immediate medical attention.

Contact Experienced Birth Injury Lawyers

If your baby has suffered injury during delivery, then a medical mistake like a botched Apgar test might be to blame. At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum, LLP, our Miami birth injury lawyers have helped many families receive the compensation they deserve. Contact us online or call 305-371-2692 to speak with us today.