Retinopathy of prematurity strikes about 1100-1500 infants each year in the United States according to the National Eye Institute. Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is related to premature birth. As premature births continue to rise, so too will the risk of ROP birth injuries.
Retinopathy of Prematurity is Preventable Through Proper Medical Care
For parents who have experienced a premature birth, it is very important to understand the risks of retinopathy of prematurity in preterm births. The bottom line is that is a very strong and established relationship between the two. Parents in this situation should keep a very close eye on the child’s development progress with vision and make sure that their pediatrician is doing the same.
For parents with children suffering retinopathy of prematurity, it is important to know that retinopathy of prematurity is preventable and therefore when it does happen, medical malpractice may be to blame. It is equally important to understand the rules, laws and deadlines on retinopathy of prematurity medical malpractice claims along with those associated with personal injury claims on behalf of children generally.
Retinopathy of Prematurity Defined
The American Academy of Pediatrics provides a description of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) as a “disorder of the developing retina of low birth weight preterm infants that potentially leads to blindness in a small but significant percentage of those infants.”
Premature Births Growing
The CDC estimates that there are 500,000 premature births each year in the United States. That represents 1 of every 8 births.
Preterm birth is the leading cause of death in infants. It is also the leading cause of lasting disabilities such as retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). Unfortunately, there is an increasing upward trend toward with premature births and the consequent harm such as ROP.
The CDC reported an increase of 20% in preterm births between 1990 and 2006. This is troubling. More troubling is that this trend was either underestimated or the trend has continued at an accelerated pace with the CDC’s later reporting a 1/3 increase from 1980 to 2006.
Blindness Associated with Retinopathy of Prematurity is Avoidable
It has been clearly established that there are medical precautions that can be undertaken to avoid ROP associated blindness in many cases. However, medical providers must be aware of the risks, symptoms, monitoring, and treatment guidelines to avoid permanent vision impairment.
The fact is that the ROP associated blindness is avoidable in a significant percent of cases. This strongly suggests the need for heightened medical diligence in guarding against ROP in preterm births.
Medical Negligence and Retinopathy of Prematurity
There are many cases of blindness or severe vision impairment that will not be avoided even where the medical standard of care in screening and treatment are met. However, a large percentage of ROP cases can be treated to avoid partial or total blindness.
In fact, the medical malpractice insurance industry has recognized that there are many preventable factors that can be utilized to improve the treatment and care of ROP. The most obvious recommendation is that all relevant medical professionals such as ophthalmologists, neonatologists, and pediatricians are aware of ROP screening and treatment guidelines.
These recommendations are made for these professionals to avoid medical malpractice claims associated with ROP. On the flip side, the recommendations suggest that it is the case that failure to meet these well-established guidelines will give rise to medical malpractice claims against the offending medical providers.
Bringing a Claim for ROP Associated Medical Malpractice
There are very important deadlines in New Mexico medical malpractice cases. The most important are the Tort Claims Notice Requirements and the statue of limitations.
Because ROP strikes children, the deadlines are a little bit more confusing but no less enforceable on medical malpractice claims on behalf of the child.
The deadlines on New Mexico medical malpractice claims are rigid and harsh. Missing an applicable deadline will bar the claim completely.
Seek Legal Guidance
If your child has suffered partial or total blindness associated with ROP, it is extremely important to contact an attorney for an evaluation of your child’s medical malpractice claim immediately upon suspicion of medical negligence. As unfair as it is, missing a deadline even in the case of a child will bar any recovery for your child’s injuries.
Collins & Collins, P.C. provides a free case review. We can be reached at (505) 242-5958.