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Understanding the Risks of Group B Strep

Understanding the Risks of Group B Strep  In the realm of maternal health, the lead-up to childbirth is a period marked by anticipation, preparation, and the diligent care of expectant mothers. However, a silent threat known as Group B Streptococcus (GBS) can significantly impact the course of pregnancy and childbirth.

This seemingly inconspicuous bacterium resides in the bodies of many, often without causing issues or complications. However, its potential to wreak havoc highlights the importance of GBS screening, timely treatment, and the legal recourse available in cases of medical negligence.

What is group B strep?

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a type of bacteria that naturally resides in the human body. While generally harmless in healthy individuals, GBS can pose significant risks, particularly to specific vulnerable groups. It is characterized by its spherical shape and is classified under the Streptococcus agalactiae species.

Prevalence and common carriers of GBS

GBS is relatively common, with a notable percentage of individuals carrying the bacteria without displaying any symptoms. It is estimated that around 25% of pregnant women are carriers. GBS can be found in the genital and gastrointestinal tracts, often without causing noticeable signs of infection.

Transmission methods and risk factors

It is not fully understood how GBS is transmitted among the general population. However, research has shown that childbirth can be a method of transmission. If a pregnant woman is a carrier of GBS, there is a risk of passing the bacteria to her newborn during delivery. Some risk factors include prolonged rupture of membranes, preterm birth, early-onset neonatal sepsis (EONS), and fever during labor. Additionally, individuals with weakened immune systems and certain chronic medical conditions may be more susceptible to GBS-related complications.

Dangers of group B strep

For newborns, exposure to GBS during childbirth can lead to severe complications. These complications can include pneumonia, sepsis (a bloodstream infection), and meningitis (an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord). Due to their developing immune systems, infants are particularly susceptible to the effects of GBS.

While GBS primarily affects newborns during childbirth, it can also pose dangers to pregnant women themselves. In some cases, GBS infections in pregnant women can lead to:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs): GBS can cause urinary tract infections in pregnant women, which, if left untreated, can lead to kidney infections and more serious complications.
  • Endometritis: This is an infection of the lining of the uterus. GBS can sometimes lead to endometritis in pregnant women, which can cause fever, abdominal pain, and other symptoms.
  • Chorioamnionitis: GBS can contribute to chorioamnionitis, an infection of the fetal membranes (amnion and chorion) and the amniotic fluid. This condition can lead to fever, rapid heart rate, and other complications during pregnancy.
  • Postpartum infections: After childbirth, women with GBS may be at a higher risk of developing infections at the site of their cesarean section incision or at the site of an episiotomy.

Severe GBS infections: necrotizing fasciitis

In rare but particularly severe cases, GBS infections can lead to necrotizing fasciitis, commonly known as “flesh-eating” bacteria. This aggressive soft tissue infection can rapidly progress and cause extensive tissue damage. Symptoms of necrotizing fasciitis can include severe pain that is disproportionate to the visible signs, weakness, fatigue, rapidly spreading red or purplish skin discoloration, swelling, and the development of gas bubbles under the skin.

Immediate medical intervention is imperative in cases of suspected necrotizing fasciitis. Treatment typically involves a combination of surgical removal of any infected tissue, intravenous antibiotics, and supportive care to stabilize the patient. In the worst cases, such as one Atlanta mother of three who became a quadruple amputee, entire limbs may need to be removed to save the patient’s life.

Medical malpractice and negligence claims for pregnant women with GBS

Medical malpractice refers to instances where healthcare providers deviate from the standard of care expected in their profession under the circumstances, resulting in harm or injury to a patient. In the context of GBS, this can include failures in screening, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as negligence in providing appropriate care to pregnant women or newborns.

Failure to diagnose or treat GBS can have severe consequences, potentially resulting in life-altering complications for both the mother and her child. When healthcare providers neglect their duty of care, legal recourse may be pursued. Negligence claims can encompass a range of issues, from misinterpretation of test results to inadequate treatment protocols.

Taking legal action in Atlanta

For Atlanta mothers impacted by GBS-related complications, pursuing legal action may be a necessary step to seek justice and compensation for the harm they’ve endured. Here are some important considerations:

  • Consultation with an Atlanta attorney: The first and most crucial step is to consult with an experienced Atlanta attorney specializing in medical malpractice and birth injury cases. We can assess the details of your case and provide guidance on the legal options available to you.
  • Gathering medical records: Collect all relevant medical records and documents related to your GBS diagnosis, treatment, and subsequent complications. These records will serve as critical evidence in your case.
  • Determining liability: Our legal team will investigate the circumstances of your case to determine if medical negligence or malpractice played a role in your GBS-related complications. This may involve consultation with medical experts to establish a breach of the standard of care.
  • Negotiation and litigation: Depending on the circumstances, we may attempt to negotiate a settlement with the responsible parties or proceed to file a lawsuit. Harris Lowry Manton will defend your rights and best interests in negotiations and court proceedings. If your case is successful, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of income, and other damages resulting from GBS-related complications.

If you or a loved one have been affected by Group B Streptococcus complications, it’s important to explore whether any medical malpractice may have played a role. At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, our Atlanta birth injury and medical malpractice lawyers are committed to seeking justice on your behalf. To set up a free case review, reach out to us today at either of our Atlanta or Savannah offices by calling us or filling out our contact form.

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