Our Chicago birth injury lawyers have often noted that breakdowns in medical care during delivery and immediately after can have permanent, life-altering consequences for infants and their parents. Now, a new public policy group called the Newborn Coalition has formed to address these issues, and work for improved healthcare for these vulnerable new lives.
The timing could not be better. In spite of the low and declining infant mortality and morbidity rates among industrialized nations worldwide, America has fallen behind. In recent years, our nation has consistently ranked around 40th in infant mortality rates – behind virtually every other industrialized nation. Worse yet, America’s infant mortality rate is actually rising, while the rates in other nations continue to drop.
Much of that is due to problems in the delivery itself. The United States has one of the world’s highest rates of unnecessary surgical deliveries – major abdominal surgery which experts say is dangerous to both mother and infant. Moreover, negligence at delivery (from improper monitoring to more active problems) can and often does lead to infant brain injury or death. After delivery, many hospitals and care providers are simply not prepared to deal with health problems in infants – from poor training to poor record-keeping, antiquated systems for sharing information with other hospitals, doctors, and specialists.
That’s why our medical malpractice lawyers are thrilled to hear of the formation of the Newborn Coalition. It is far too easy to turn a blind eye to these issues, because no one wants to imagine herself ever facing them. Expectant parents, and those who hope to someday be expectant, imagine themselves experiencing the smooth delivery of a healthy newborn. Most of us simply do not want to imagine the possibility that things could go otherwise. Unfortunately, this makes advocating for the necessary changes in the current system difficult.
That’s where the Newborn Coalition comes in. The organization’s stated goal is to be “a vocal advocate for the newest, most vulnerable citizens through partnerships and programs that enhance health care for newborns and their families.” It will do so by working to “improve understanding of newborn health and risk factors while helping drive policies that enhance educational outreach, improve outcomes, access to quality care, and craft sustainable, scalable, technology-based practices benefiting newborns.”
The Newborn Coalition was founded by women whose lives have been intimately affected by issues of Newborn Health. The coalition is made up of a number of “stakeholders” in newborn medical care. This includes the American Telemedicine Association, VisionShare, the Health IT NOW Coalition and 1in100, among other individuals and groups concerned with improving infant healthcare.
Mary Ellen Mannix, an advisory board member, lost her infant son in 2001 to several “breakdowns in his medical care,” a polite way to term negligence or medical malpractice at birth. She now works to improve pediatric patient safety and enhance communication among the various entities involved in infant healthcare. Annamarie Saarinan, co-founder and advisory board member, was more fortunate – although her infant daughter was diagnosed with congenital heart failure at two days old, she eventually received the necessary treatment and her life was saved. Ms. Saarinan notes, however, that this experience has made her aware of the “pitfalls” in obtaining adequate newborn medical care.
Our medical malpractice attorneys urge the Newborn Coalition to push its mission nationwide – and we urge the leaders of both the healthcare industry and our nation to take notice, and respond to the coalition’s leadership and suggestions.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago birth injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.