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Is Cerebral Palsy Caused by Medical Negligence?

Medical Errors That Can Lead to This Common Motor Disability

Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood. Recent population-based studies from around the world show prevalence that estimates numbers of cerebral palsy ranging from 1 to nearly 4 per 1000 live births, according to the CDC. Typically, a cerebral palsy malformation occurs while the brain is developing. This can happen before, during, or after birth, and it can be caused by medical negligence if the doctor or other healthcare professional fails to monitor or respond properly to certain situations that happen during the delivery. Although cerebral palsy is not always caused by medical negligence, it can often be traced to mistakes made by healthcare providers. Some of the mistakes that healthcare providers can make that create the conditions for cerebral palsy include:

  • Failing to treat seizures
  • Improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction
  • Failure to detect a prolapsed cord

Additionally, when a doctor delays a C-section or does not promptly fix complications throughout the labor and delivery, the risk of birth injury increases, which also increases the risk of the child developing cerebral palsy.

How Do You Know if Your Baby Has Cerebral Palsy?

The signs of cerebral palsy usually appear in the first few months of life, but many children are not diagnosed until age two or later. However, in severe cases, the child can be diagnosed soon after birth. In children with milder symptoms, a diagnosis might not be made until the brain is fully developed at three to five years of age. There is no test that confirms cerebral palsy, and doctors must rely on the signs and symptoms in order to make a diagnosis. The signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Impaired movement associated with abnormal reflexes
  • Floppiness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk
  • Abnormal posture
  • Involuntary movements
  • Unsteady walking or lack of balance
  • Variations in muscle tone
  • Tremors or involuntary movements
  • Delays in motor skill milestones, like pushing up on arms, sitting up, and crawling
  • Favoring one side of the body, such as reaching with one hand or dragging a leg and crawling
  • Difficulty walking, which includes walking on toes, a crouched gait, a scissors-like gait with knees crossing, a wide gait, or an asymmetrical gait
  • Drooling or problems with swallowing
  • Difficulty with sucking or eating
  • Delays in speech development or difficulty speaking
  • Learning difficulties

For some patients, cerebral palsy can impact the whole body, and for others, it might be limited to one limb or a single side of the body. As the patient ages, some symptoms can become more prominent, while others will become less so. Muscle shortening and muscle rigidity can progress if not treated promptly. The brain abnormalities associated with cerebral palsy can contribute to other neurological problems, such as:

  • Difficulty seeing and hearing
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Seizures
  • Oral diseases
  • Abnormal touch or pain perceptions
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Mental health conditions

Can You Sue a Doctor for Cerebral Palsy?

If you notice any of the symptoms above in your child and your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and you suspect that a delivering doctor, nurse, or medical facility is to blame, you have the right to pursue a lawsuit. It is always an unfortunate circumstance when a doctor causes developmental and neurological complications due to malpractice, but it does happen.

When it does, the team at Belushin Law Firm, P.C. wants to help hold responsible parties accountable. It is important to remember that there is a finite amount of time in which you can sue a doctor in a cerebral palsy case. In New York, cerebral palsy cases must be filed within two and a half years from the time of the injury that led to the disorder. This means that if you notice symptoms of cerebral palsy in your child, it is best to get them diagnosed as soon as possible if you want to pursue this kind of case.

In order to prove medical malpractice with cerebral palsy, we must prove that the following factors occurred:

  • There was a violation of standard of care
  • The injury was caused by negligence
  • The injury resulted in significant damage to the child

Hospitals must have policies and practices in place that help them avoid patient neglect, and they must also provide a safe and sterile environment for all patients. Hospitals are also responsible for hiring medical staff who have appropriate medical care education, training, and licensing. The hospital can be held legally accountable if a medical staff member does not meet the requirements needed to practice. They can also be held responsible for any birth injury that was caused by a lack of on-duty medical professionals needed to uphold quality patient care. The hospital needs to make sure there are sufficient staff members at all times so that all patients are safe. If they did not meet these responsibilities, you will want experienced medical malpractice lawyers like the team at Belushin Law Firm, P.C. to fight for your case and get you the justice you deserve.

To learn more about how we can help you sue if your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, or to learn about our other services, call Belushin Law Firm, P.C. at (888) 918-9890 or contact us online.