Misidentification of the maternal and fetal heart rates

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Legally reviewed by:
Steven R. Davis and John A. Davis, Jr.
September 28, 2020

Having a baby is exciting for most Texas mothers. When people go to the hospital for the birth of their babies, the medical staff will place monitors to detect and monitor the fetal heart rate. This helps to make certain that the baby is still alive and to monitor for any changes that might indicate fetal distress. Unfortunately, however, some medical professionals misidentify the mother’s heart rate for the infant’s heart rate, leading to a failure to identify when a fetus has died.

Electronic monitoring and misidentification problems

According to a study that was published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, electronic monitoring equipment that is used to detect and monitor the fetal heart rate can pick up the maternal heart rate in patterns that mimic those of the fetus. Distinguishing between the maternal heart rate and the fetal heart rate is important for the prevention of fetal injury and death. Since the fetal monitor can detect and record the maternal heart rate, it is important for professionals to confirm fetal life before applying the monitor. After the monitor is placed, professionals should continue confirming fetal life.

Confirming fetal life

Confirming fetal life upon admission and before the use of fetal monitors can help to avoid confusion and unnecessary interventions. Professionals should learn to differentiate between the maternal and fetal heart rate patterns so that problems can quickly be identified during labor.
Accurate maternal monitoring during labor can help doctors and nurses to quickly identify when the mother or baby is in distress. This can allow them to act to prevent injuries and complications. When a doctor or other medical professional fails to detect fetal distress because of interpreting the data incorrectly, the families may want to consult with experienced medical malpractice attorneys about the rights that they might have.

John A. Davis, Jr.


John A. Davis, Jr. and Steven R. Davis

September 28 2020

Steven R. Davis and John A. Davis, Jr. are experienced attorneys at Davis & Davis, a law firm that specializes in medical malpractice cases in Texas. With a deep commitment to justice that guides their ethical approach, Davis and Davis have dedicated their careers to helping victims of medical negligence. They and their team continue to advocate for clients, despite the challenges posed by Texas's cap on recoverable damages in malpractice lawsuits. Davis & Davis pride themselves on their extensive experience in the field and their readiness to meet clients across the United States.

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