Articles Posted in Birth Injury

voting-150x150Voters from coast to coast made decisions last week not just about which candidates to favor but also about an array of health-related concerns from abortion to health insurance expansion to legalized ways to get high.

Women’s reproductive rights: a big deal

A major motivator in the 2022 midterm elections was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to abolish the constitutional right to abortion and leave it to the states to decide women’s reproductive health rights.

makenadrug-300x67Federal regulators have hit a highly public reckoning for their policies to provide speedy approvals for prescription drugs, benefiting Big Pharma’s profits but not necessarily patients — notably women in serious need of help with a shame of the U.S. health care system: the nation’s dismal state with injuries and deaths to expectant moms and infants.

The federal Food and Drug Administration 11 years ago gave Covis Pharma an expedited review and approval to market its prescription drug Makena, which the maker promoted as a rare medication to prevent preterm births.

In exchange, the company was supposed to conduct broader, rigorous, and more detailed studies to prove definitively that Makena prevents moms from delivering before 37 weeks, which is a serious problem that affected 1 in 10 births in 2020 alone, the New York Times reported. The newspaper also noted that preterm births are a greater problem for black women:

afampregnant-220x300The United States, the wealthiest nation in the world, has a really bad record on maternal mortality. And it only worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Center for Health Statistics found that 861 women died during pregnancy or shortly thereafter in 2020 versus the 754 comparable deaths in 2019, the New York Times reported, noting:

“The United States already has a much higher maternal mortality rate than other developed countries, and the increase in deaths pushes the nation’s maternal mortality rate to 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2020 from 20.1 deaths in 2019. Maternal mortality rates in developed countries have in recent years ranged from fewer than two deaths per 100,000 live births in Norway and New Zealand to just below nine deaths per 100,000 live births in France and Canada.

pregnant-300x200Expectant parents have gotten an ugly exposure to a rapacious aspect of modern medicine: Over testing, over diagnosis, and over treatment, specifically with a new, fast-growing high-tech twist.

The grownups — whether over-reaching to safeguard the unborn or in a simply silly way to determine the gender of their hoped-for bundle of joy — are ordering unnecessary, expensive, and too often alarming prenatal genetic blood tests. These rapid exams purport to tell whether a fetus may have the rarest of congenital diseases, the New York Times reported in some admirable digging, triggered by a stack of patients’ surprise medical bills.

Reporters Sarah Kliff and Aatish Bhatia found a big problem with the high-tech prenatal screens: The tests too often are dead flat wrong.

dopelady-300x200Although most states, including most recently Virginia, have eased restrictions on the recreational or medical use of marijuana, expectant moms should take note of serious studies that show pot, especially in heavy consumption, isn’t great for the health of unborn babies.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego examined a decade of medical records of 5 million or so women in the Golden State, carefully comparing those who used marijuana heavily versus those who did not. Their results, published in a scientific journal, offered a warning, as NBC News reported:

“Babies born to women who were heavy cannabis users during pregnancy are more likely to have health problems, including premature birth and death within a year of birth, compared to babies born to women who did not use cannabis during pregnancy.”

disabledkidsfla-300x233When doctors, hospitals, and insurers bellyache about malpractice claims with little evidence on their prevalence or outcomes, patients and politicians should push back: And they can cite the nightmares people in grievous circumstance have suffered when their constitutional right to seek justice in civil lawsuits gets stripped away.

The Miami Herald and ProPublica, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative website, have conducted a joint, deep dive into Florida’s decades-old legislative experiment, purportedly to assist families struggling with infants’ birth-related and catastrophic disabilities. The state’s neurological injury compensation initiative also was promoted as a way to stem a problem seen mostly in anecdote and not evidence — obstetricians and other specialists supposedly fleeing Florida, reputedly due to spiking malpractice insurance costs.

The media investigators, in a multipart series , have found that eliminating medical malpractice lawsuits for this slice of patients has benefited not the patients but instead, doctors, hospitals, and insurers.

bbaby-300x200A recent study of deaths among  black infants may provide another conscience jab to medical leaders who are confronted with mounting evidence of racial health care disparities in the United States.

As the Washington Post reported, researchers examined records of 1.8 million Florida hospital births between 1992 and 2015, finding in their published study these stark results:

“Although black newborns are three times as likely to die as white newborns, when black babies were cared for by black doctors after birth — primarily pediatricians, neonatologists and family practitioners — their mortality rate was cut in half. They found an association, not a cause and effect, and the researchers said more studies are needed to understand what effect, if any, a doctor’s race might have on infant mortality. ‘Strikingly, these effects appear to manifest more strongly in more complicated cases,’ the researchers wrote, ‘and when hospitals deliver more black newborns.’ They found no similar relationship between white doctors and white births. Nor did they find a difference in maternal death rates when the race of the doctor, usually an obstetrician, was the same as the mother’s.”

britroyals-150x150chrissyandjohn-150x150Two women with significant star power have opened up to the public about a rarely discussed experience — that, even in contemporary times, pregnancies do not all go well and that parents who lose a pre-term child suffer a shattering grief that others should recognize and seek to help them with.

It may be a sad symptom of social media and celebrity itself that controversy and criticism also has greeted the deeply personal disclosures by Chrissy Teigen, a superstar model, chef, and wife of acclaimed entertainer John Legend, and Meghan Markle, aka the Duchess of Sussex, and the American-born actress and biracial wife of Britain’s Prince Harry.

Markle wrote a heart-felt Op-Ed for the New York Times, describing the overpowering sadness she and her husband shared after she miscarried their second child:

CDCmaternalmortality-300x147Hundreds of mothers die of preventable pregnancy-related complications up to a year after delivering their babies, with black and native women experiencing notably high maternal morality risks.

The needless deaths of around 700 women nationwide each year due to cardiovascular conditions, infections, hemorrhages and other complications related to their pregnancies underscores the importance of improving maternal care, especially in increasing its access and quality, the federal Centers for Disease Control reported in a new study.

The Washington Post quoted Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, commenting on the agency data:

maternalmorbidity-300x193Here is a  sobering public health angle on Mother’s Day.

Experts on international health and development, including the likes of Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent and columnist Nick Kristof, long have argued that a key way to major improvements in distant lands rests in boosting the lot of women and girls. It’s an issue that clearly also needs attention closer to home.

National Public Radio and Pro Publica, a Pulitzer-winning investigative site, deserve yet more credit for their continuing dig into a shame of contemporary American health care — why U.S. mothers die in childbirth at a far higher rate than in all other developed countries. Their latest disturbing reporting focuses on some unacceptable numbers:

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