Low Apgar Score at Birth: Medical Malpractice in Portland, OR Explains

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Understanding What a Low Apgar Score at Birth Means


When a baby is born, they are evaluated with the use of something called Apgar scoring. Scoring is always collected one minute after birth, and five minutes after birth. If the baby does not appear to be responding well, a third score will be conducted ten minutes after birth. Apgar scoring is an indicator of the infant’s health at time of birth. Low Apgar scores at birth can be indicative of birth injury.  No score is indicative of dead or lifeless, either for a brief moment and was resuscitated or if the score does not improve permanent. This testing system is used in cases of medical malpractice in Portland, OR when birth injuries have occurred, especially brain injuries. A child with a low score with the presence of an injury (i.e. hypoxic brain injury) is indicative that something has occurred during the birthing process that should be investigated. 


Apgar Scoring Explained


The Apgar Score was created in 1953 to be used as a method for assessing the newborn at birth. While it may not be able to evaluate every aspect of the health of the newborn, it is a useful tool as mentioned above to evaluate the immediate health of the newborn.


A healthcare provider conducting scoring looks to assess the following:


  • Activity – Infants score a 0 if there is no movement, a 1 is there is minimal arm and leg flexion with otherwise no movement, or a 2 with spontaneous, active movement
  • Pulse – Infants are scored at a 0 if there is no pulse, a 1 if it is below 100, or a 2 if it is above 100 beats per minute (normal)
  • Grimace – Infants score a 0 if they are unresponsive to stimulation, a 1 if they only grimace with stimulation, or a 2 if they cough, cry or pull away with stimulation
  • Appearance – Infants score a 0 if they are blue/gray or quite pale, a 1 if they appear to have normal color but hands and feet are blue, and a 2 if they have overall normal color
  • Respiration – Infants are scored at a 0 for no breathing, a 1 for irregular or slow breathing and a weak cry, and a 2 for a healthy cry and normal breathing rate


A newborn who scores a 7 to 10 is considered healthy, 4-6 is considered below normal, and 0-3 is critically abnormal. 


Reasons for a Low Apgar Score at Birth


  • Baby is premature
  • Baby born from a high-risk pregnancy
  • Difficult delivery
  • Fetal monitoring errors
  • Prolonged labor
  • C-section delay
  • C-section errors
  • Baby born with use of labor inducing drugs, leading to uterine tachysystole or hyperstimulation 

How Is Scoring Used in Medical Malpractice Claims?


While a low Apgar score at birth is not always indicative of negligence, if a newborn is born with a birth injury in conjunction with a low score, this may be used in trial as further evidence that medical malpractice may have occurred. Often, a low Apgar score at birth can be indicative that the newborn suffered oxygen deprivation, leading to potential brain damage. 


Ask Our Birth Injury Lawyers in Oregon for Help If Your Baby Had a Low Apgar Score and Has Lasting Injuries Now


If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.


Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.


We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.

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