Medical malpractice can occur when doctors and hospitals fail to diagnose or delay the diagnosis of a baby born with a congenital heart defect. Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect. Heart defects affect approximately eight (8) out of every 1,000 newborns. Each year, more than 35,000 babies in the United States are born with congenital heart defects. This means that approximately 700 babies are born in Pennsylvania each year with heart defects.
There are many types of congenital heart defects- ranging from simple defects with no symptoms to complex defects with severe, life threatening consequences.
Parents should know that a heart murmur in a newborn is often be the only sign that a baby has a congenital heart defect. Approximately 1% of newborns have a heart murmur. Alarmingly, studies report that 31% to 86% of infants born with a murmur have structural heart disease i.e. heart defects. This is true even in newborns with no other symptoms other than a heart murmur.
Because of the higher likelihood of potentially devastating structural heart disease in asymptomatic newborns and young infants with heart murmurs, it has been recommended in numerous publications including the American Family Physician that referral to a pediatric cardiologist and/or for echocardiography is recommended. This is because even potentially life threatening heart defects in babies may not be associated with any initial signs or symptoms other than the heart murmur. If your baby is born with a heart murmur, your doctor, (pediatrician or neonatologist) must make sure that your child is evaluated by a pediatric cardiologist and/or scheduled for immediate echocardiography. Failure to do so may be malpractice and could result in terrible consequences for the child.
Delayed or misdiagnosed congenital heart defects can have devastating and lethal consequences for babies. Because of this, prompt medical or surgical intervention is required to give the child the best outcome. Putting aside loss of life, misdiagnosed or delayed diagnosed heart defects can result in a number of crippling injuries including irreversible pulmonary hypertension.
For congenital heart defects like ventricular septal defects, studies show that the sooner repair of the defect is performed the better the child’s outcome. Delay in treatment of ventricular septal defect of more than a year is often associated with irreversible pulmonary hypertension which significantly compromises children’s life expectancy and quality of life.
The Pittsburgh law firm of Meyers Evans Lupetin & Unatin is handling delayed diagnosis heart defect lawsuits. If your child was born with a heart murmur and much later diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, medical malpractice may have been the cause. If your child has sustained a serious injury as a result of a failure or delay in diagnosing a heart defect, you should consult with a qualified medical malpractice lawyer like the attorneys at Meyers Evans Lupetin & Unatin, LLC to learn what, if any, options may be available for you and your child.