Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood. Cerebral palsy, or CP, is a disorder of the brain that can cause permanent muscle weakness and mobility impairment. Cerebral palsy can be caused by medical negligence or malpractice, such as when a health care provider causes or fails to prevent an infant brain injury during labor and delivery.
Brain Damage and Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect movement, posture and balance. CP is caused by two types of brain damage. The first is a brain malformation in utero, meaning while the brain is still in development. Causes of improper development are often unknown but can include genetic disorders.
The second type of brain damage is a traumatic brain injury caused to a developing brain before, during or just after birth. Pregnancy complications, a difficult delivery and preventable birth injuries can all cause this type of CP. Although a child can go through therapies and treatments to ease symptoms and improve quality of life, cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition with no known cure.
A child who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy may experience motor function disability, developmental delays, muscle spasms, abnormal muscle tone, exaggerated reflexes and involuntary movements. Depending on the severity of the condition, CP may interfere with a child’s ability to walk unaided and earn a living in the future.
Medical Negligence and Infant Brain Injuries
Medical negligence refers to the failure of a doctor, nurse, obstetrician, gynecologist, surgeon or another health care provider to adhere to the accepted standards of care in his or her practice. During labor and delivery, for example, a doctor should act with the same level of care that a reasonable and prudent doctor would in the same or similar circumstances.
If a doctor falls short of this responsibility and injures a patient, it is medical negligence. If the doctor knowingly violates the standards of care, it is medical malpractice. Examples that can result in infant brain injuries are:
- Failure to diagnose and treat a maternal or infant infection
- Negligent infant and mother monitoring
- Failure to notice signs of fetal distress and react in time to prevent injury
- Failure to notice a lack of oxygen getting to the baby’s brain (hypoxia)
- Failure to prevent or detect fetal stroke
- Failure to treat preeclampsia
- Improper reaction to emergency situations or a complicated delivery
- Failure to promptly order an emergency C-section
- Undiagnosed or untreated infant jaundice
- Misuse of forceps or birth-assistive tools during delivery, causing a brain injury
If an infant suffers a brain injury during labor and delivery, it could point to medical negligence. While this is not always the case, there are scenarios where a doctor fails to use a normal amount of care during the birth of a child. If this leads to the infant suffering a brain injury and later being diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the child’s family may have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim against the physician and/or hospital or birthing center.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim for Cerebral Palsy
If you believe your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by medical negligence in Albuquerque, contact an attorney at The Fine Law Firm about a potential claim. Filing a lawsuit could bring your child justice by holding the negligent doctor or health care provider accountable. It could also help your family pay for medical costs associated with CP, such as ongoing treatments, specialists, therapies, medical devices and medications. Request a free case consultation with a knowledgeable cerebral palsy attorney when you call (505) 889-3463.