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A Brief Overview of Electronic Fetal Monitoring and Public Perception

Dr. James C Johnston

· Health
Dr. James C. Johnston shares his expertise in neurology through numerous publications, and has been featured in the a number of journals including the Journal of Child Neurology, Journal of Neurological Sciences, Neurology, Journal of Maternal Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, The Surgery Journal and Neurological Clinics.

In May of 2015, the Journal of Child Neurology published an article, co-authored by Dr. James Christopher Johnston, titled Cerebral Palsy Litigation: Change Course or Abandon Ship. The article, which remains a popular read for the journal’s audience, focuses on electronic fetal monitoring and how it is perceived by the public.

Electronic fetal monitoring tracks a fetus’s heart rate during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. In addition, it helps medical professionals understand uterus contractions. It has been used to predict cerebral palsy. The article contends, however, that the predictions are based on a high rate of false-positives generated by such monitoring, which are used in birth-injury lawsuits. In fact, studies have indicated that electronic fetal monitoring does not reduce the risk of cerebral palsy; rather, it has increased the Caesarean section and mortality rate for both fetuses and mothers.
Despite this research, the medical community in large measure continues to endorse electronic fetal monitoring. In addition to the public and trial lawyers advocating its need, a large number of physicians, including obstetricians, consider it efficacious. But the journal article’s authors contend that physicians cling to it mainly as a defense against lawsuits.
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