Aim: To evaluate neonatal resuscitation of infants born with severe asphyxia.
Method: All case records of the 472 claims for financial compensation due to suspected medical malpractice in conjunction with childbirth in Sweden between 1990 and 2005 were scrutinized. Inclusion criteria were: gestational age > or =33 completed weeks, planned vaginal onset of delivery, a reactive CTG at onset of labour, neonatal asphyxia (defined as metabolic acidosis [pH of < 7.05 and/or a base excess of < -12]), or an Apgar score <7 at 5 min. It was assessed that 177 infants suffered from cerebral palsy or early death due to severe asphyxia presumably caused by malpractice around labour.
Results: Median Apgar score at 5 min was 3, indicating that all infants needed immediate and extensive resuscitation. There was insufficient adherence to guidelines concerning neonatal resuscitation, including delayed initiation of excessive resuscitation in 19 infants, lack of satisfactory ventilation in 79 infants, and untimely interruption of resuscitation in 38 infants.
Conclusions: Compliance with guidelines for resuscitation of severely asphyctic newborn may be improved, especially concerning ventilation and prompt paging for skilled personnel in cases of imminent asphyxia. Documentation of neonatal resuscitation must be improved to enable reliable evaluation.