Starting off this week’s news is a look at a study that looks at the causes of newborn asphyxia during and after birth. This study out of Norway looked primarily at the hospital setting but I think there are lessons to be learned here for the EMTs and paramedics out there, too.

Tragedy of Human Error in Childbirth

Father holding newborn Asian baby girl, inside hospital roomThe study found that human error accounted for most situations of fetal and newborn asphyxia. Most often this was because of inadequate fetal monitoring which we don’t usually do in the field but the other causes could be something we might deal with in the EMS sector. Among the other causes related to human error were failure to follow clinical guidelines and medication errors.

These are certainly things we can relate to and do something about for those infrequent births in the field. The lesson here is to make sure you are familiar with your protocols for childbirth and neonatal care. It is incumbent on us in EMS to review our EMS education on infrequently used skills and knowledge like neonatal care. Make sure you stay up to date on your training classes with things like PEPP, pediatric education for prehospital providers or even take a pediatric advanced life support (PALS) class.

Lack of Oxygenation Key to Poor Childbirth Outcomes

According to the study, lack of oxygen to the infant or fetus lead to the asphyxiation. We can often at least help with this by getting mom on oxygen right away and providing access to blow-by oxygen to the newborn when needed after birth. You might never be what you would call comfortable with birthing a baby in the back of your ambulance but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared.

Take the time, a few minutes, once a month to look over your guidelines and make sure you know what to do if and when that moment arrives. You could be a true lifesaver!


Follow-up on the link for this and other news items as well as all of the additional resource links in the show notes for this episode – Blood Transfusions for EMS and Episode 363.



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