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Premature Baby With Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Are you the parent of a premature baby diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis? Learn more about what it is, what causes it, and if or when you should talk to a lawyer.

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What Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious gastrointestinal problem. This condition affects intestinal tissue, causing it to die. The weakened and dead tissue can form a hole in the intestine, leaking harmful bacteria. Serious abdominal infections can occur. In some cases, surgery is needed to remove the dead and damaged tissue.

Who Is At Risk For Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

NEC is not limited to premature babies, but the majority of diagnosed cases are premature newborns. Nearly 90% of NEC diagnoses are premature babies. 1 in 1,000 premature babies are diagnosed with NEC. Several factors are known to cause or increase the risk of developing NEC.

  • babies born before the 37th week of pregnancy
  • babies fed using a feeding tube in the stomach
  • weight of less than 5.5 pounds at birth
  • babies fed a bovine-based formula or fortifier

Causes Of NEC

Sometimes, the cause of necrotizing enterocolitis is unknown. But, certain types of formulas and fortifiers are known to increase the risk of NEC. Formula and fortifiers based on cow’s milk are dangerous for premature babies.

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Hospitals sometimes use bovine milk-based formulas and fortifiers to help newborns gain weight. However, cow-based products can be harmful or even fatal to premature babies with weak immune systems.

Dangers Of Necrotizing Enterocolitis

We stated above, NEC causes intestinal tissue to die and can lead to serious infections. But what does this mean for your baby? While the hospital may be able to repair the damage, NEC can cause long-term damage and complications.

Harm Caused By NEC

Since the hospital is responsible for the harm, hospital staff may try to downplay the seriousness or long-term harm to your baby. But, NEC can cause immediate or delayed harm to your baby. Additionally, some children will experience chronic digestive problems. Here are common problems babies with NEC face:

Surgery To Repair Intestine

Your baby may need surgery to repair holes in the intestine. While the surgery may repair the immediate danger caused by NEC, there can be other, related complications later in your baby’s life.

Intestinal Strictures

1 in 3 babies later develop intestinal strictures, which can require surgery to repair. An intestinal stricture can occur a few months to years after a baby recovers from NEC. The intestine narrows, making it difficult for food to process. Surgery is commonly needed to treat an intestinal stricture.

Short Bowel Syndrome

When necrotizing enterocolitis damages the intestine as a baby, the child may develop short bowel syndrome later in life. This makes it hard for the body to absorb the fluids and nutrients it needs. Short bowel syndrome requires lifelong care and may require a feeding tube.

Growth Failure And Development Delays

Long-term complications are very common in infants who undergo surgery. While the surgery may save their life, your baby will require regular follow-ups to monitor growth, health, and development.

Hospital Liability

It is common for patients to trust a hospital’s judgment when caring for a premature baby. As a parent, you’ve probably never had a premature baby before. But, hospitals care for preemie babies on a regular basis. You trust the hospital to have the experience to help your baby. This is not always the case. When mistakes happen, the hospital owes you (and your baby) a responsibility to make it right.

Medical Malpractice Claims

Medical malpractice is an area of law that helps people harmed by medical neglect and mistakes. Doctors and hospitals have procedures to follow to ensure each patient gets quality care. Medical mistakes happen when doctors and nurses don’t follow established procedures.

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When medical mistakes cause physical lasting harm, the patient deserves fair compensation. This compensation has a two-fold effect. One, the patient gets the money they need for ongoing care, income loss, and more. Two, the hospital is forced to review procedures and policies to make sure the mistake or neglect does not happen to future patients.

When To Talk To An Attorney

If you have a premature baby that is diagnosed with necrotizing enterocolitis, talk to a medical malpractice attorney about your situation. An attorney can help you understand your legal options so you can choose the best way to proceed.

Don’t trust the hospital to do what is best for you and your baby. A medical malpractice attorney can help you and your baby get the money you need and deserve for the ongoing care your baby needs. Talk to a local medical malpractice attorney in a free consultation.

While it is possible to forgive an honest mistake, that doesn’t erase the financial and physical hardship placed on you and your baby. Hospitals have insurance to cover malpractice expenses.

Haggerty & Silverman Medical Malpractice Attorney

A medical malpractice attorney at Haggerty & Silverman has the experience you need. With necrotizing enterocolitis claims, it can be difficult to know what a fair settlement should include. Before you accept anything from the hospital, talk to an experienced attorney. Trust the experience of our attorneys to secure the settlement you deserve.

We can help you develop your claim to include reasonable compensation for:

  • reimbursement for medical expenses related to the hospital’s mistake
  • future medical expenses
  • lifelong care plan
  • pain and suffering

Free Medical Malpractice Consultation

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a local attorney. We provide free and confidential medical malpractice consultations. You don’t pay us anything unless we recover money for you.

Learn More About Necrotizing Enterocolitis

To learn more about necrotizing enterocolitis, please check out the Cleveland Clinic website.