Understanding Medical Malpractice: The Causes of Cerebral Palsy by Medical Mistakes
While most parents are fortunate enough to have their child born healthy and without complications, it is sadly not always the case. Some babies develop normally in the womb, but during the birth or shortly after they suffer trauma or loss of oxygen which can lead to permanent injury. Other times, babies can suffer from oxygen loss in the womb, leading to permanent injury. Whatever the case may be, it is devastating nonetheless. What makes these injuries even more devastating is if these injuries could have been entirely preventable. One example of an often preventable birth injury is cerebral palsy. That means that some of these causes of cerebral palsy by medical mistakes could be avoided.
Our medical malpractice lawyer knows that these injuries like cerebral palsy are sadly permanent, meaning that the child will suffer from effects of the injury for the rest of their lives. If your child suffered from a potentially preventable birth injury such cerebral palsy, it is important to have your child’s case reviewed as it could have been due to medical malpractice.
What is a Birth Injury?
A birth injury is an injury that occurs shortly before birth, during labor and delivery, or just after birth. There are many causes of birth injuries, both preventable and unpreventable. Examples of common birth injuries include hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, brachial plexus injuries, bruising, broken bones, kernicterus, hypoglycemia, cerebral palsy, as well as many other birth injuries.
Cerebral Palsy Explained: Including the Causes of Cerebral Palsy by Medical Mistakes
Cerebral palsy is a birth injury due to a loss of oxygen or can be due to brain trauma. Cerebral palsy is a generic or umbrella term for a group of disorders. There are actually many different types of cerebral palsy. The classifications for each type are in reference to where the brain damage occurred that caused the cerebral palsy. Common types of cerebral palsy include the following:
Athetoid Cerebral Palsy – This type of cerebral palsy is due to damage to basal ganglia in the brain. People with this type of cerebral palsy often exhibit slow twisting movements, with muscle tone being either hypertonic or hypotonic
Dystonic Cerebral Palsy – This type of cerebral palsy is due to damage to the basal ganglia as well. People with this type of cerebral palsy have slow, jerky movements and usually have an abnormal posture
Choreathetoid Cerebral Palsy – This is a type of athetoid cerebral palsy, with individuals often experiencing disabling and abnormal movements of the hips, shoulders, and face, with most of the movements being involuntary
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – Damage to the cerebellum is the cause for this type of cerebral palsy. People with this type of cerebral palsy most commonly have difficult with writing or other fine motor movements as well as have trouble with walking
What Causes Cerebral Palsy by Medical Mistakes?
There are many causes of cerebral palsy. Some cases of cerebral palsy are unpreventable, and can be due to genetic factors or abnormal brain development. Often times however, cerebral palsy is due to something that could have prevented if the medical team had acted appropriately and in a timely manner. The most common cause of cerebral palsy is oxygen deprivation (hypoxia), but can also be due to trauma. When a baby loses oxygen for a period of time, it causes damage to the brain and brain cell death, leading to birth injuries such as cerebral palsy.
How is Cerebral Palsy (CP) Due to Medical Malpractice?
Sadly, as mentioned above cerebral palsy can be a direct result of a mistake made by a doctor or other healthcare professional either shortly before birth, during labor and delivery, or just after birth. There are many different preventable causes of cerebral palsy, with the most common causes including the following:
- Failure to diagnose problems with the umbilical cord – this is a common cause of cerebral palsy, with the reason being that if there is a problem with the umbilical cord it often causes oxygen deprivation. Common umbilical cord issues that can lead to cerebral palsy include umbilical cord prolapse and nuchal cord. Sometimes, these problems are identifiable while in utero, while other times they may only be present at birth. It is up to the physician and other healthcare providers to identity these issues and act appropriately to prevent oxygen deprivation from occurring
- Improper use of assisted delivery equipment – assisted delivery devices most commonly include forceps and vacuum extractor. Failure to use either of these things appropriately can lead to trauma that can cause cerebral palsy
- Failure to identify that the baby will be too large for a vaginal delivery, or if a mother’s pelvis will be too small. This can lead to circumstances such as shoulder dystocia, a life threatening medical emergency that can cause hypoxia leading to cerebral palsy and other types of brain damage
- Failure to identify fetal distress – mothers are monitored during their labor to monitor themselves and their baby. Contractions are monitored as well as fetal heart rate. If medical providers fail to identify fetal distress and intervene, it can lead to serious conditions such as cerebral palsy
- Overuse of labor inducing drugs – overuse or inappropriate use of labor inducing drugs such as Pitocin can lead to uterine tachysystole, a condition that can lead to fetal distress and oxygen deprivation.
- Failure to treat jaundice, leading to kernicterus – kernicterus is almost always due to medical malpractice and is a direct result of untreated jaundice. Kernicterus is a type of brain damage caused by hyperbilirubinemia and can lead to conditions such as cerebral palsy
- Failure to perform a c-section when indicated – if there are signs of fetal or maternal distress, or other complications it is a doctor’s duty to act immediately to prevent complications such as cerebral palsy from occurring
- Failure to treat hypoglycemia – hypoglycemia refers to low blood sugar. While easily treatable, if left untreated it can be quite serious and can lead to birth injuries such as CP
- Failure to diagnose and treat pre-eclampsia – pre-eclampsia is a life-threatening condition for both the mother and baby. The only cure for pre-eclampsia is to deliver the baby. Failure to act appropriately and in a timely manner can lead to conditions such as CP, as there is a risk for neonatal hypoxia
Ask Our Birth Injury Lawyer for Help With the Causes of Cerebral Palsy by Medical Mistakes in Oregon
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form. We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.
Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton, Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles, St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.
We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.