To learn that your child has cerebral palsy is often unexpected. You may be wondering what you could have done differently and if it was preventable. Sometimes the cause of cerebral palsy in a child is unknown or linked to genetics. However, there are plenty of instances where medical errors result in cerebral palsy.
At Batson Nolan PLC, we can help you hold the at-fault party liable for causing your child’s cerebral palsy.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders that permanently affects a person’s ability to move, balance, and maintain their posture. Those with cerebral palsy often lack muscle control and struggle to coordinate their movements. This disorder is caused by abnormal development of or damage to the brain, which can happen before, during, and after birth.
There are two types of cerebral palsy: congenital and acquired. Congenital cerebral palsy is when a child is born with the condition, which is caused by abnormal brain development before or during birth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 85-90% of cerebral palsy cases are congenital. While this list is not exhaustive, here are some contributing factors to congenital cerebral palsy:
- Infections during pregnancy,
- Medical conditions of the mother,
- Use of infertility treatments,
- Abnormal placenta,
- Multiple births,
- Premature birth,
- Low birthweight,
- Oxygen deprivation, and
- Complications during labor and delivery.
Acquired cerebral palsy means the condition came about after birth. This may be caused by an infection, such as meningitis or encephalitis (swelling of the brain), trauma to the head, or some other incident that causes a lack of blood flow to the brain.
Is Cerebral Palsy Preventable?
To answer this question, you have to look at what caused the cerebral palsy. For example, cerebral palsy that is linked to genetics or multiple births is not preventable. On the other hand, if the medical staff fails to take reasonable measures regarding a problematic birth-related condition and their failure to act caused the child to develop cerebral palsy, then that was preventable. There are plenty of pregnancy and birth-related conditions that, if not managed properly, can lead to cerebral palsy in a child. Here are some examples where cerebral palsy is preventable.
Failure to Properly Diagnose
Medical personnel may not diagnose or may misdiagnose an infection in the mother. For example, infections such as Group B Strep or a urinary tract infection can infect the baby’s brain during delivery. This can cause inflammation of the brain and result in cerebral palsy.
Failure to Anticipate Complication
If the mother has a medical condition that can cause complications during delivery, the medical staff must take appropriate measures. Preeclampsia, for example, is when the mother has high blood pressure. This condition can restrict blood flow and oxygen to the baby, possibly leading to cerebral palsy. Doctors and nurses who do not monitor this during labor and delivery can be liable.
Mishandling of Fetal Distress or Umbilical Complications
When babies are in distress, their heart rate drops, and they can be deprived of oxygen. Similarly, when a baby’s umbilical cord is delivered before the baby (prolapsed) or if the cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck (nuchal), this hinders oxygen flow. If medical personnel do not respond appropriately, this can result in severe brain damage and ultimately cerebral palsy.
Improper Use of Medical Tools
During some deliveries, doctors must use delivery tools, such as forceps or a vacuum extractor. These tools put pressure on the baby’s head. If not used properly, the pressure can be excessive, cause brain damage, and lead to a cerebral palsy diagnosis.
Failure to Perform a Cesarean Section
In cases where the baby is large or the mother has placenta previa, there is a stronger chance of complications during vaginal delivery. If a doctor does not order a Cesarean section delivery, he or she may use delivery tools that apply unnecessary pressure to the baby’s head, causing brain damage.
Improper Use of Labor-Inducing Drugs
When a mother is not “on time” to deliver a baby, doctors often order a dose of Pitocin. This drug artificially speeds up labor. Unfortunately, if contractions become too frequent and strong, it can deprive the baby of oxygen-rich blood. Contractions that are too strong can also put unnecessary pressure on the baby’s head, causing trauma and bleeding.
If you are questioning whether your child’s cerebral palsy was preventable, contact the injury attorneys at Batson Nolan PLC.
What Should I Do If My Child’s Cerebral Palsy was Preventable?
If you believe your child’s cerebral palsy was preventable, you may consider filing a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional fails to follow the required professional standard of care and the patient suffers harm. This is a form of negligence. You can also sue the hospital or medical institution for the actions of the medical staff. To prove negligence, you need show the following:
- The medical care provider owed the patient a duty of care;
- The medical care provider breached the duty of care;
- The patient suffered actual harm; and
- The breach caused the patient’s harm.
At Batson Nolan PLC, we can help you determine if the medical care provider’s actions were negligent. We will assess the type and extent of the child’s injuries, thoroughly review the medical records, and enlist the help of other medical professionals and experts where we see fit. If you are successful with your claim, you may receive compensation for a variety of damages, both economic and non-economic.
Contact Our Team of Experienced Injury Lawyers Today
Having a child with cerebral palsy is life-changing. Medical bills can become overwhelming, and the emotional toll may be irreparable. If a medical professional or health care institution is responsible for your child’s cerebral palsy, you deserve compensation. You should not have to financially suffer because of someone else’s carelessness.
At Batson Nolan PLC, we have spent over 150 years fighting to bring justice for our clients. We want you to get the compensation you and your family deserve. Contact us today to speak with one of our injury legal team.