Infant RSV Cases Increase in New York 

Among adults, respiratory syncytial virus infections are rarely serious. Among young children, RSV is often fatal.

The respiratory syncytial virus outbreak is “rampant all throughout the country,” remarked Chicago pediatrician Dr. Juanita Mora, who is also a voluntary American Lung Association spokesperson. “The emergency department is getting completely flooded with all these sick kids, so we want parents to know they can go to their pediatrician and get tested for RSV, influenza and even Covid-19,” she added.

Caregivers should look for physical symptoms, like trouble breathing, as well as behavioral changes, like refusing to eat. Caregivers should be especially cautious if the children are preemies, newborns, children with weakened immune systems or neuromuscular disorders, and/or under age 2 with chronic lung and heart conditions

Like any other viral infection, according to doctors, the best way to prevent RSV infections is to teach kids to cough and sneeze into a tissue or into their elbows rather than their hands. Also, caregivers should try to keep frequently touched surfaces clean.

The Link Between RSV and BPD

By itself, RSV is one of the most serious neonatal complications. Making matters worse, RSV increases the chances a baby will develop Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia, an even more serious condition that usually causes permanent lung damage.

Difficulty breathing is one of the most common RSV symptoms, or any other similar virus, like the flu or COVID-19. Generally, healthcare teams immediately put young infants on ventilators in these situations. The risk of hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) is too great. Hypoxia could cause cerebral palsy and a number of other maladies.

However, in this situation, the treatment could literally be worse than the disease.Young infants have underdeveloped lungs. Constant air pressure from a ventilator or other device damages key components in developing lungs. As a result, many of these babies either die or require lifetime oxygen supplements. Imagine going through life as a child, teenager, young adult, and beyond and always depending on an oxygen tank or breathing tube. 

Repeating a familiar theme, BPD treatments may be worse than the disease, although that’s hard to believe. There’s some evidence that systemic corticosteroid treatments can prevent BPD in some cases. However, there’s more evidence that these steroids cause neurodevelopmental sequelae (cerebral palsy) and gastrointestinal perforation.

RSV and Hospitalization

If babies show signs of RSV, BPD, or any other distress, the medical team must immediately admit these babies to the NICU. Furthermore, they must keep those babies in the NICU until they are healthy enough to go home. Both these tasks are easier said than done.

Fundamentally, a hospital is a company that’s in business to make a profit. Most insurance companies use service-based reimbursements. A live birth is X number of dollars, if that live birth requires three hours or three days. So, to make as much money as possible, hospitals often pressure families to leave as soon as possible.

As a result, if a child is a “borderline” RSV or other risk, many hospitals would rather err on the side of profit than err on the side of caution. In other words, if a baby might get sick, hospitals send families home, where they must hope for the best.

Financial pressure prompts premature hospital discharge, and emotional pressure often prompts premature NICU discharge. Many new families want to go home together. Sometimes, against best medical practice, hospitals allow families to do that, even if the baby is still sick.

Legal Responsibility Issues

Improper RSV or other illness treatment breaches the duty of care. So does premature hospital or NICU discharge. If a family incurs medical expenses and other damages as a result of this negligence, a New York personal injury lawyer can force a hospital or other organization to pay these damages.

The doctors who lead healthcare teams and make all important decisions have a fiduciary duty of care. They must do what’s best for their patients, regardless of the financial, emotional, or other cost. This high duty of care makes it easier to prove negligence, or a lack of care.

Medical malpractice claims, especially birth injury claims, are quite complex. For example, a New York personal injury attorney must usually partner with at least one expert witness. This expert establishes the standard of care and highlights the lack of care. New York law is victim-friendly on this point. So, an attorney has the flexibility to work with a top expert who also knows how to connect with jurors.

Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced New York personal injury attorney, contact Napoli Shkolnik, PLLC. We handle medical malpractice matters on a nationwide basis.