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Expecting parents in Akron will be happy to learn that one hospital in the Akron-area is participating in a program that is designed to reduce the number of birth injuries. The Premier Perinatal Safety Initiative started in 2008 with the goal of reducing the number of preventable injuries, identifying what is a preventable harm and what is not, and to find ways to make deliveries safer. Since its inception, the hospitals participating in the program have reported significant improvements.

The delivery of a child is supposed to be a joyous occasion, but an estimated 9 percent of the 4 million births every year have some kind of problem. This means there are approximately 360,000 birth injuries every year. Some are relatively minor, but many of them can lead to serious and permanent disability. What is worse, approximately 30 percent of the injuries are preventable. Thought it is horrible to think about, there are legal options available to Ohio residents when a birth injury does occur.

One of the ways that this program is designed to lessen birth injuries is by increasing communication and establishing practice drills for medical emergencies. The hospitals may use actresses or staff members posing as pregnant women to facilitate the drill, but the point is to refresh hospital workers on emergency procedures and discover any potential flaws in the staged delivery.

An initial evaluation of the program has found that there has been a 25 percent decrease in the number of cases of birth hypoxia or asphyxia, a condition in which the child’s brain becomes oxygen deprived. As these conditions can cause cerebral palsy and other neurological damage, this decrease is an important stride in the fight against medical malpractice and birth injuries in Akron.