Cerebral Palsy and Medical Malpractice

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Cerebral Palsy birth injuries are often the result of poor decisions made during the birthing process – or good decisions that simply weren’t exercised on time. In many cases, Cerebral Palsy birth injuries result in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Who Is Responsible For Cerebral Palsy Injuries?

Who’s generally responsible for a child developing Cerebral Palsy? According to birth injury lawyers, when Cerebral Palsy is caused by a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain during labor and delivery, it’s the obstetrician and the nurses associated with the labor and delivery that are generally the ones at fault. What it comes down to is recognizing, at an early stage, that this particular child is going to be unable to deal with this labor and making the decision that we’re not going to go through a normal vaginal delivery, but perform a Caesarean section instead.

So it’s the obstetrician mainly and then the nurses as well who are very typically skilled in these settings in determining whether or not this child is going to be able to withstand the forces of labor. It is a timing issue. Doctors and nurses review fetal monitoring strips to make these decisions. These strips evaluate a mother’s contraction rates and the baby’s response to those contractions which help the doctors and nurses determine whether this is a particular baby that simply cannot withstand these forces.

Once that decision has been made, or once that light bulb is turned on, then a very quick decision needs to be made and very quick action needs to be taken to deliver this child by a different manner – typically by Caesarean section. That process seems to be quite simple. So, how do these things get missed?

Hospitals May Risk Injury To Save Money

That may sound harsh, but it’s a reality in today’s healthcare cost explosive world. Typically, children that have these problems are the children that are induced, where the mother does not go into labor, but rather the doctor is inducing the labor – giving the woman a drug in order to try and deliver the baby. The way it’s frequently missed is that the doctors and nurses simply play the odds. In other words, this happens so infrequently that they’re willing to risk what would appear to be a short term problem on these strips because that problem may disappear and then we can vaginally deliver this baby.

There is also this pressure which comes from the hospital. Very often, hospitals monitor Caesarean section rates because they increase the hospital’s cost. There’s this downward pressure from the hospital to reduce the Caesarean section rate which either consciously or subconsciously is in a doctor’s mind. So, in some situations, they may risk it and say hey, this doesn’t look terribly bad on the strips, so we’ll just take our chances.

Damages Available in Cerebral Palsy Cases

Cerebral Palsy birth injury lawsuits seek to redress healthcare professionals’ negligence by compensating victims for their injuries – which can be substantial. Birth injury lawyers generally seek these three types of compensation for their clients through medical malpractice lawsuits.

  • Medical Care. Damages start with medical care because the child is likely going to not only require a lot of therapy, but is frequently going to become sick because of his inability to move or the impairment of the lungs.  Cerebral Palsy will carry significant future medical expenses – and those damages can be recovered.
  • Future Earnings. The second type of damages involves future earnings. Unfortunately, while a child’s intellect may not be affected by this, they will likely be unable to hold a job.  So there’s going to be an opportunity to recover for the large wage loss that someone would suffer by not really being able to work for the rest of their lives.
  • Intellect. The third, and probably the largest form of damages in these situations, involves intellect. One of the most difficult aspects of this is when a child’s brain is able to function normally, but their bodies can’t function physically. That child is able to tell that they can’t do all the things that everyone else can do. So, the internal suffering and emotional distress that undoubtedly goes along with understanding that the child is going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his or her life; understanding that they are not the same as every other kid; or understanding that they are not going to be able to go play a sport – all of these issues will cause emotional damage that you and the child can recover.

Cerebral palsy lawsuits will not undo the damage done or alleviate the physical and emotional pain and suffering your child will experience, however, you can recover damages to alleviate the financial burden of the condition.  Work with an experienced attorney who can identify the cause of your child’s condition, pursue the responsible parties, and get the damages that you and your child deserve.


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