Can I file a medical malpractice claim for Cerebral Palsy? When it comes to personal injury cases, one subject that gives people pause is medical malpractice. After all, hospitals are usually where we go when we need medical assistance, which is especially true when it comes to our children. People are wary of suffering from medical malpractice as they think it is a battle of insurmountable odds.
Cerebral palsy (CP), in many cases, is preventable with proper prenatal care. So the short answer to the question of whether you can file a medical malpractice claim for CP is YES. However, you will benefit greatly from having a skilled Cerebral Palsy Lawyer.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
When a child is diagnosed with a physical disability, it is probably the most challenging moment in a parent’s life. It marks the beginning of a lifetime journey that will be especially difficult for the child. Not long ago, very little was known about the cause of cerebral palsy. It was thought to be hereditary or a random occurrence that could affect newborns. But cerebral palsy isn’t always a natural occurrence due to the roll of the genetic dice.
For the most part, cerebral palsy results from some damage that affects the brain development of a fetus or preterm infant. Symptoms include tremors, difficulty performing fine motor skills, speech, and involuntary movements. Symptoms vary from person to person. For some, their cognition may be reduced, whereas others are only affected physically.
Currently, there is no cure for CP, but in many cases, proper prenatal care and monitoring during delivery may prevent it.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
The more we learn about cerebral palsy, the better we can identify what causes this disorder. Here are some medical conditions during pregnancy we do know.
Your doctor must test for these conditions and treat to you to prevent further complications:
- Genetics: As with many disorders, genetics play a big part in a child’s development.
- Trauma: Trauma to a developing baby in-utero can lead to having a child with CP. Car accidents and other blunt forces can cause a stroke in a newborn baby’s brain. Disrupting blood flow to the brain may result in permanent damage and cerebral palsy.
- Lack of oxygen to the brain: A lot can happen to impede the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a developing brain. Cord issues while in-utero could contribute to this, as could a complex delivery where the baby is in distress and a doctor’s choice delayed emergency delivery plans.
- Stroke: As mentioned before, certain kinds of trauma can induce stroke in-utero, but so can certain medications, medical procedures, and other problems that create blood clots in the baby’s blood supply.
- Premature delivery and low-birth weight: Anytime a baby is born with these conditions, they are at risk for health problems. Failure to thrive, breathing difficulties, and trauma during an unexpected birth may result in complications. The lower the birth rate, the higher the risk of CP.
- Preeclampsia: Though widely debated whether or not gestational high blood pressure could cause CP, factors linked to preeclampsia, such as low birth weight and premature birth, are believed to contribute to cerebral palsy.
- Gestational diabetes: Among many complications which may arise due to a mother’s ability to regulate blood sugar are conditions such as cerebral palsy.
- Diseases: A variety of ailments the mother carries could affect her baby as it develops. Women who are unvaccinated for German measles, untreated toxoplasmosis from cat feces (indoor litter boxes), syphilis and other untreated STIs, and other conditions may lead to CP in the newborn.
- Jaundice: When a newborn’s bile liver ducts haven’t developed entirely, this can lead to an excess amount of bilirubin in their bloodstream, giving them a yellowish color. The treatment for this is often applying ultraviolet light to a baby in a neonatal care unit to break down the bilirubin as it comes close to the skin’s surface. The child might require surgery to open the liver ducts. If the condition isn’t treated, jaundice can lead to complications that can cause CP. This condition is easily treated, and a doctor must educate a parent on how serious it is and what steps to take.
Liability in Prenatal Care
Those monthly and then weekly visits to the doctor are set to protect the mother’s and baby’s health as it grows inside her. With constant testing such as bloodwork, ultrasound, monitoring blood sugar, blood pressure, and many others, your doctor is supposed to have a good idea of the health of mom and baby from month to month. An ultrasound can pick up cord issues. A competent OB/GYN can catch diseases such as toxoplasmosis, STIs, and signs of intrauterine infections during check-ups. Doctors have not only insight into their patient’s health but also a duty to inform them of what might be a concern.
Medical professionals have a responsibility to the health and welfare of their patients. When a condition such as cerebral palsy could be prevented, there may be medical malpractice involved.
Malpractice in Care and Treatment
Here are some ways a doctor might also contribute to cerebral palsy:
- Injury during delivery: Delivery can be tricky, but medical advancements ensure an easier delivery. Failure to address a cord issue, delaying delivery, and even physical trauma due to outdated or dangerous methods during the procedure are all possible reasons for cerebral palsy.
- Failure to diagnose: Doctors may dismiss a mother’s concern about her health, chalking it up to new parent jitters or some other condescension. They might even become defensive if a patient questions their assessment of a health concern, missing potential preventable health risks.
- Failure to take action in treatment: Not doing anything about a known condition is inviting disaster. Poor prenatal care, lack of post-delivery care, ignoring results of blood tests such as rH factor, and other concerns can affect a child’s development.
What Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Do for My Child?
Doctors must take precautions to reduce the risk of CP in your newborn. If you suspect that your doctor is at fault, either through negligence or outright malpractice, protect your rights and your child’s rights. An attorney can help you understand the process and work towards getting you the compensation you and your child need for a lifetime of disability.
Your child will likely have difficulty navigating their childhood and adulthood with CP and may need continued surgeries, disability access equipment such as crutches, physical therapy, and other accommodations for life.
Negligence/malpractice on the part of one person will affect the lives of your child and many others for a very long time. You may qualify for damages to offset the expense, pain and suffering, and continued treatment of a condition that could have been prevented. Don’t be intimidated by the medical establishment.
A skilled medical malpractice attorney knows how to fight against large corporations, government entities, and influential private citizens. Hire an attorney to ensure you have the most support possible when fighting for your rights in a cerebral palsy medical malpractice case.