It's About Justice

A leading medical malpractice and personal injury law firm for people
harmed through negligence.

  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Birth Injuries
  4.  » Is a low APGAR score after birth a sign of medical malpractice?

Is a low APGAR score after birth a sign of medical malpractice?

On Behalf of | Jul 31, 2023 | Birth Injuries

Newborn babies have no way to communicate other than crying, and even their parents are unable able to differentiate between the different types of cries that they make at first. It is, therefore, necessary for the adults present at a baby’s birth to establish as soon as possible if the infant requires any kind of medical intervention.

Health professionals attending a live birth must, therefore, carefully evaluate each infant for signs of injury or distress to provide the right medical support after labor and delivery. One of the tools used to assess newborns is a special scoring system. Infants given a low APGAR score may have a higher risk for complications in their first weeks of life, and those complications could potentially be the side effect of medical malpractice or negligence.

What a low score indicates

Immediately after birth, medical professionals will inspect a newborn and assign an APGAR score. The word APGAR is an acronym for the five components reviewed to produce the score. Physicians look at the infant’s color, measure their heart rate, check their reflexes, inspect them for muscle tone and rate their respiration.

Each category results in a score between zero and two. An infant’s APGAR score should usually be between seven and nine after a healthy delivery. Lower scores may be indicative of some degree of medical negligence or malpractice. Newborns who receive a score below seven may have endured extreme distress during late pregnancy or labor. A child’s color and heart rate could serve as indicators that they did not receive adequate oxygen during the final stages of delivery, for example, which might then translate to lasting birth injuries.

Proper monitoring of a newborn and timely interventions when labor does not proceed in a healthy manner are key for avoiding poor outcomes. In scenarios with delayed medical intervention or improper fetal monitoring, there could be a direct relationship between a newborn’s low APGAR score and the mistakes made by staff at a birthing center.

Parents who understand that an APGAR score can be a reflection of improper medical care may be in a better position to advocate for their child after a complicated labor and delivery process. Pursuing a medical malpractice claim might help families recoup the expenses generated by a birth injury caused, at least in part, by the negligence of medical professionals.


FindLaw Network