Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice in the Birth Process
Some children develop cerebral palsy as a result of inadequate oxygen (hypoxia) and inadequate blood flow (ischemia) during birth. It’s hard to believe that many of these babies suffer at the hands of the doctors and hospitals who are supposed to ensure their safety and health, but when it happens, the responsible healthcare providers need to be held accountable for their mistakes.
If your child has cerebral palsy that you believe is due to medical negligence or error at birth, you’re not alone. However, it’s critical to understand what causes cerebral palsy so that you know your rights and can determine whether or not you’ll be able to file a lawsuit. Keep reading as we cover the most common pregnancy and birthing errors or omissions that may impact a child’s health.
Incorrectly Handled Infections
It’s not uncommon for a maternal infection — whether bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic — to occur during pregnancy, which can negatively affect a developing fetus if not quickly diagnosed and treated. Mothers-to-be endure a series of routine prenatal tests to ensure the health of both themselves and the baby, but sometimes those tests are mishandled. Some examples of medical malpractice related to infection include:
- A doctor fails to test for common illnesses, especially if concerning symptoms such as a fever occur at any point during the pregnancy.
- A healthcare professional failed to quickly or adequately treat an infection.
- A doctor who failed to administer antibiotics upon admission to a hospital after a mother tested positive for Group B strep.
- Healthcare professionals failed to test and treat the infant after birth — especially if any infections seemed likely.
Doctors often prescribe certain medications for women to use during their pregnancy and delivery. However, any of the following errors or misuses of these medications can have dire consequences for the unborn child:
- Use of a medication that is dangerous for mother or child, including off-label pharmaceuticals.
- Prescriptions that, when used in conjunction with medications already being taken by the mother, create adverse or harmful effects
- A wrong dosage or prescription or dosage mix-up that was incorrectly filled by a pharmacy
- Incompetent monitoring of mother and child during the use of anesthesia
Failing to Meet the “Standard of Care”
In the medical field, healthcare professionals are legally required to provide an accepted level of quality and expertise to patients. A failure to meet these standards may lead to what medical protocols and organizations deem “improper medical care,” which could include any of the following:
- Failing to administer treatment in a timely manner, including emergency C-section, necessary medication or resuscitation of a compromised baby or failing to administer fluids, oxygen, or medication to ease the stress of contractions on a baby.
- Neglecting to address conditions that could result in danger to a newborn, including:
- Placenta previa, a condition that occurs when the baby’s placenta covers the mother’s cervix, or abruption or a uterine complication
- Issues with the umbilical cord, such as tangling or wrapping around the baby, a condition known as nuchal cord, which could cause asphyxiation
- Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD), a condition that occurs when the baby’s head or body is too large to fit through a mother’s pelvis
- Inadequate fetal monitoring, including choosing the wrong type or frequency of monitoring, not properly observing the monitor for signs of concern and not acting quickly enough to respond to concerning signs on the monitor.
Errors in the Delivery Room
Even for mothers who experience a relatively normal pregnancy, the risks aren’t over until the baby is delivered and deemed healthy. The birthing process is still a precarious one, during which even the slightest mistake may have lifelong consequences. The conditions that may cause neurological damage resulting in cerebral palsy for an otherwise healthy baby include:
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum extractor equipment
- Failure of delivery doctors to notice signs of fetal distress that require an emergency cesarean section
- Eclamptic symptoms in the mother, which can cause seizures that threaten the infant’s life
- Missing, ignoring or misinterpreting warning signs from fetal heart monitors
- Failing to resuscitate a newborn who needs help breathing
- Delaying or failing to perform a C-section
- Misdiagnosis of fetal position in the uterus
- Severe jaundice
- Improper management of shoulder dystocia
- Improper use of manual force in extracting a baby from the birth canal.
JJS Will Fight for Your Cerebral Palsy Medical Negligence Case
The emotional and financial distress of medical negligence can be traumatic when your baby has suffered as a result. The experienced cerebral palsy lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs have recovered over $3 billion for families, including record-breaking CP jury verdicts and settlements. We’re here to help your family receive the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the next steps in your case.