Why we should always remember Dr Apgar.
There have been some sensational breakthroughs and developments in the field of medicine over the past 100 years.
We’ve seen the creation of vaccines that have essentially cured conditions such as smallpox and polio. We’ve also seen the invention of measuring instruments such as automated pipettes and breathalysers which have had a huge impact on development, research and accident prevention.
Yes, there’s much to be proud of, but often it’s the simple creations that have such an important impact on the lives of so many. The Apgar Score is certainly one of these.
For those who aren’t aware, the Apgar Score is a testing system used by medical practitioners to evaluate the health of newborn babies immediately after birth and then again five minutes later. Essentially, the system requires the practitioner to assign a number value from 0-2 on how the baby measures up to five criteria – Activity, Pulse, Grimace (reflex), Appearance (skin colour) and Respiration. A score lower than 7 indicates the baby will likely need medical intervention.
The introduction of this system across the world has effectively enabled practitioners to make an efficient and fairly objective assessment of newborns which then can immediately alert them to any pressing issues and the course of action to take.
The system has been used for over 66 years and was created by inspiring anaesthesiologist, Dr Virginia Apgar – who believed that a system used to test a patient’s status during surgery, could be tailored to assess newborns to ultimately determine if any emergency action needs to be taken.
The effectiveness and worldwide adoption of the Apgar Score system is a true testament to Dr Apgar and her tremendous medical vision which continues to live on despite her passing nearly 45 years ago.
It’s also important to realise that all medical practitioners involved in the delivery of newborns need to respect the Apgar Score. Failure to appreciate and act on a low Apgar Score can be considered negligent on the part of the physician, medical team or hospital.