Is Head Cooling Therapy a Sign of Medical Malpractice?

The stress, heartache, and uncertainty of a difficult delivery should never detract from the joy of birth. When infants experience a serious injury during birth, parents deserve answers from the medical team that oversaw their child’s birth. If a medical team administered a head cooling treatment to your child, it might be time to start asking why.

What Is Head Cooling Therapy?

Head cooling therapy is used by obstetricians when brain damage is strongly suspected to have occurred during delivery. It is an experimental treatment that is used to prevent brain damage from hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). HIE is a condition that describes a lack of oxygen to an infant’s brain. Issues of HIE occur before, during, and after childbirth. When a baby experiences a lack of oxygen, a medical team may apply head cooling therapy.

Head cooling therapy is also known as neonatal hypothermia. A medical team will place a head cooling cap over the head of an infant to begin the treatment. This cap is fed cool water which is regulated to lower the infant’s body temperature to about 92-94 degrees Fahrenheit. Though this temperature decrease does not sound significant, it may be enough to slow any brain damage.

Was Head Cooling Used Because of Medical Malpractice?

Obstetricians and their team of medical professionals are trained to recognize "red flags" during delivery and act quickly to prevent harm to an infant and mother. When a delivery team ignores signs or circumstances that led to oxygen deprivation, they are responsible for a child’s harm.

While head cooling is known to be an effective therapy, a member of the team caring for a child should have recognized the events that led to the lack of oxygen in the first place. It is a medical team’s job to recognize fetal distress, and they must act appropriately to save all infants from brain damage.

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