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Failure to Diagnose or Treat Necrotizing Enterocolitis

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What is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?

Necrotizing enterocolitis occurs when there is infection and inflammation of the intestine, causing the lining of the intestinal wall to fall off, leading to death of the intestinal tissue. It is most common in babies who are born early or premature. Many newborns that have necrotizing enterocolitis can go on to live healthy lives. But if the infection becomes severe, it can cause severe damage to the intestine-which can be deadly.

$2 Billion in Verdicts & Settlements Since 1958

Here at The Beasley Firm, we have experienced legal and medical teams that consist of doctors and nurses who have worked in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) and newborn nurseries caring for premature infants and NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis). Our collective medical and legal knowledge assisted in obtaining some of the largest medical negligence verdicts in Pennsylvania history, $100 million and $55 million. If your baby developed NEC while in the hospital, please contact our team of experienced lawyers, doctors, and nurses at (215) 866-2424 for a strictly confidential and free consultation.

What Causes NEC?

The exact cause of NEC is unknown, but it is thought that there is something that causes a decrease in the blood flow to the bowel or intestine that prevents the bowel from producing protective mucus. Infants or newborns that are at high risk for developing NEC are usually premature, fed concentrated infant formula, or received blood transfusions.

Some of the symptoms of NEC are:

  • Bloating
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Feeding intolerance
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the stool or bowel movements
  • Black stools
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Lethargy or tiredness
  • A fast heart rate
  • Trouble maintaining a normal body temperature.
  • Abdominal distention (a belly that is larger and harder than normal)

If NEC is not promptly diagnosed and treated, it can lead to an intestinal narrowing or a stricture of the intestine, intestinal perforation or a hole in the intestine, infection in the abdomen or peritonitis, overwhelming infection or sepsis, and even death.

How Medical Malpractice Can Worsen NEC

NEC can develop in the absence of any medical mistakes. However, once it is suspected that a baby may be developing NEC, treatments must be started to minimize the amount of damage to the bowel or baby. If it is suspected that an infant has NEC, the doctor will usually order an x-ray of the belly, test the bowel movement for blood, check the white blood cell count and look for an infection.

If NEC is diagnosed, all feedings are stopped and an intravenous (IV) line is started to give the baby fluids and vitamins. A small orogastric (OG) or nasogastric (NG) tube may be inserted to help remove food, air and gas from the stomach. Antibiotics are usually started just in case there is an infection. The baby’s belly and condition are then monitored with additional x-rays, blood tests, and arterial blood gases.

If the baby does not respond to the non-surgical treatments, they may require surgery to prevent additional injury to the intestines. Approximately one out of every four infants with NEC requires surgery. The first surgery is done to remove the damaged part of the intestine and place a colostomy or ileostomy to give the belly a rest and allow it to heal. When a baby has an ostomy, the stool exits the body through it and is collected in a colostomy bag. After the intestines have had a chance to heal and any infection is gone, the infant will undergo another surgery to reverse the colostomy or reconnect the bowel.

It is estimated that the death rate associated with necrotizing enterocolitis is approximately 25%. Early and aggressive treatment is necessary in any baby that is showing signs of NEC to decrease the chance of further injury, damage, or death. It is normal to feel overwhelmed and scared when your baby is premature or has other health problems. Do not hesitate to call our firm for counsel today.

Helping the Injured Find Justice & Compensation

If your baby developed NEC while in the hospital and suffered severe injuries, your child may have been the victim of medical negligence. The Beasley Firm is known in the legal field for our thorough, expert-backed approach to developing these cases. It’s why we have secured record-setting verdicts since the 1950s-including the two largest medical malpractice verdicts in the state.

Our legal accolades and awards include:

  •    Yearly inclusion in the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers® list
  •   10.0 Rating on Avvo-a perfect score
  •   Inclusion in Best Lawyers® 
  •   Inclusion in “The Best Law Firms” in America for Medical Malpractice

When people suffer from the negligence of their doctors and nurses, they turn to us because we have the history, the results, and the integrity to help them receive the funds they need for medical care.

Call (215) 866-2424 for a free consultation.

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(215) 866-2424
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.