Apgar Score Medical Definition

What is the Apgar Score?” 

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  • Apgar Score
Apgar Score Medical Definition

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Apgar Score medical definition: The Apgar is a quick test performed on just-born babies that checks key areas to ensure the child successfully navigated the birthing process. A physician will take note of the baby’s activity in the following areas: 

  • muscle tone
  • Pulse
  • grimace
  • reflex irritability
  • appearance
  • skin color
  • respiration

These observations are made and recorded immediately following birth, again one minute after birth and again five minutes after birth. The 1-minute score determines how well the baby underwent the birthing process. The 5-minute score tells the health care provider how well the baby is doing outside the mother’s womb. Scores are determined on a 1-10 scale. A low score alerts a doctor that resuscitation may be necessary while a high score reassures a doctor that the baby is healthy and thriving outside the womb.

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Apgar Score in Medical Malpractice Cases

The Apgar test is done by a doctor, midwife, or nurse. The provider examines the baby’s:

  • Breathing effort
  • Heart rate
  • Muscle tone
  • Reflexes
  • Skin color

Generally, a low score at 1 minute is near-normal by 5 minutes. Low Apgar scores can be caused by:

  • Difficult birth
  • C-section
  • Fluid in the baby’s airway 

A baby with a low Apgar score may need:

  • Oxygen and clearing out the airway to help with breathing
  • Physical stimulation to get the heart beating at a healthy rate 

A lower Apgar score doesn’t necessarily mean a child will have serious or long-term health problems as the Apgar score is not designed to predict the future health of the child, but to determine the success of the birthing process. However, if these tests are performed or calculated incorrectly and a newborn does not receive the support they require, it can constitute medical malpractice




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