What Is Necrotizing Enterocolitis?
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating disease that affects mostly the intestine of premature infants. The wall of the intestine is invaded by bacteria, which cause local infection and inflammation that can ultimately destroy the wall of the bowel (intestine). Such bowel wall destruction can lead to perforation of the intestine and spillage of stool into the infant’s abdomen, which can result in an overwhelming infection and death.” (1)
Cases of NEC Rising
Over the past three decades, cases have been on the rise. Strangely enough, because babies born prematurely are able to receive better care nowadays, necrotizing enterocolitis has become more common.
In fact, seven out of 100 babies of very low birth weight — often premature infants — “are likely to develop NEC.” (2)
Causes of NEC
There is no one specific cause of necrotizing enterocolitis. But these things might play a part: (3)
- An underdeveloped intestine. In premature infants, this is more likely.
- Too little oxygen or blood flow to your infant’s intestine either during birth or shortly afterwards.
- Injury of some kind to the intestinal lining.
- Heavy growth of bacteria in your infant’s intestine. Bacteria can erode the intestinal wall.
- Viral or bacterial infection of the intestine. An infection can be severe.
- Formula feeding. Breast-feeding may be safer than using formula.
NEC sometimes happens in “clusters,” meaning several infants in the same nursery might develop NEC at the same time. NEC does not spread from one infant to another. (4)
But sometimes one infant has a virus or bacteria and it spreads to other infants. Because bacteria and viruses in a nursery can spread, “all nurseries and NICUs have very strict precautions to help prevent the spread of infection.” (5)
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Symptoms of NEC
Symptoms of NEC may show up gradually or come on suddenly. These include: (6)
- Bloating of the abdomen.
- Blood in the stool.
- Feeding problems.
- Lack of energy.
- Unstable body temperature.
- Unstable breathing, blood pressure, or heart rate.
Treatment of NEC
Early and correct diagnosis and treatment are critical. “Up to 40% of infants with NEC die from it. Early, aggressive treatment can help improve the outcome.” (7)
Before treating your infant for NEC, your doctor needs to run a number of tests and use a variety of diagnostic tools. These could include an abdominal X-ray and numerous blood tests. (8)
Treatment can be time-consuming and complicated. A medical professional may give your infant fluids and antibiotics. In addition, some treatments are more invasive, such as inserting a tube in your baby’s stomach to relieve gas. (9)
Your baby needs to be monitored. Medical professionals may take multiple X-rays, run multiple blood tests, and measure blood gases. (10)
In some cases, surgery is necessary. Your surgeon may need to remove dead bowel tissue from your infant, perform a colostomy or ileostomy, and carry out additional surgery in the future to reconnect the bowel. (11)
Medical Duty of Care
All medical professionals have what is called a “duty of care.” When caring for infants, they are responsible for recognizing the signs of NEC in a newborn baby. And they are responsible for taking the proper actions to treat NEC. (12)
Failure to properly diagnose NEC and provide the correct treatment may cause irreparable harm. And it may be considered medical malpractice. “Medical malpractice is defined as any act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient.” (13) If your doctor had diagnosed your baby’s condition properly and given the appropriate treatment, your infant might not have the same injuries or died. Your baby might be alive and doing well right now. If your health care provider was negligent, you may have an actionable legal case.
Hiring the Right Lawyer to File Your Lawsuit
When it comes to medical malpractice, you want an experienced law firm handling your case. Attorneys at Weitz & Luxenberg know what they are doing and they have been doing it well for years. Our attorneys have a proven record of winning.
Better yet, they have what you need — someone who cares about what happened to your family and wants to make it right. You deserve justice for your child.
If your infant suffered severe complications due to NEC, or died, and was misdiagnosed in the state of New York, look for an attorney licensed to practice law in New York. Although every state has rules and regulations regarding medical malpractice, each one typically has its own laws.
Medical malpractice is a complex field. The attorney you hire is dealing with statutes of limitation, regulations regarding negligence, and issues of liability. Your attorney also needs to be familiar with state law regarding the legal system and courts, state-mandated hospital practices and physician training, and similar medical malpractice legal rulings.
You need to trust the person when you choose to hire an attorney.
This is your important first step. Once you have decided on the right team to handle your case, the rest is up to your attorneys. And you can feel confident letting them guide you through the legal process.
If your baby suffered from necrotizing enterocolitis, a lawsuit can help get the compensation you deserve.
How W&L Can Help
Weitz & Luxenberg has decades of experience handling complex medical malpractice cases. We are a national firm headquartered in Manhattan, New York, and we have won billions of dollars over the years on behalf of our clients.
If your child was severely injured, or your infant died, due to a medical professional’s negligence or misdiagnoses of NEC, you may be entitled to compensation.
Contact a reputable attorney can help you explore your legal options. Our guidance can be invaluable.
W&L Wins Infant Injury Lawsuits
Weitz & Luxenberg strives to offer our clients the strongest legal representation possible. Here are just a few of our successes involving medical malpractice litigation:
W&L secured more than $6 million on behalf of a family whose infant daughter suffered irreversible brain damage because doctors failed to diagnose and treat her severe infections quickly and appropriately.
W&L achieved an $8 million settlement for a family whose infant son suffered irreversible brain damage at birth because of a traumatic and delayed delivery.
W&L won an $8.5 million jury verdict after representing a woman whose baby suffered irreparable brain damage when he got stuck in the birth canal during delivery and was deprived of oxygen for 3 minutes.