Medical negligence is well documented as a cause of serious birth injury. Much of this negligence is in the form of avoidable delays in delivering babies who aren’t getting enough oxygen during the labor and delivery process.
While we don’t know how much of cerebral palsy is caused by medical negligence, studies have shown that up to 23% of babies who develop cerebral palsy do so because of prolonged periods of inadequate oxygenation during labor and delivery. Determining whether medical error is to blame has to be done on a case-by-case basis.
As an accomplished cerebral palsy attorney who has focused his practice on cerebral palsy and birth injuries for more than 30 years, and who has reviewed some 15,000 cases, I ask parents these 12 questions when they come to me with suspicions their child has suffered a preventable birth injury.
7 Questions about Your Newborn
- What was the condition of your child at birth (breathing, crying, moving…or limp and needing resuscitation)?
- Did your child have an extended hospital stay after birth?
- If so, was your child in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)?
- Did your child have an abnormal ultrasound, CT-scan, or MRI of the brain?
- Did your child experience seizures during the first few days of life?
- Has your child been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or brain damage?
- Do you have copies of your child’s medical records?
5 Questions about Labor and Delivery
- Did electronic or other fetal monitoring reveal abnormalities in the baby’s heart rate, or did some other event occur that signaled the baby was in distress?
- Did the mother experience any vaginal bleeding at any time, or unusual pain in between contractions?
- During labor and delivery, were substantial and repeated measures taken to improve fetal oxygenation such as oxygenating the mother, turning her on her side, or giving her IV fluids; or were drugs administered to slow or calm contractions?
- Was an emergency cesarean section or an assisted vaginal delivery (with a vacuum extractor or forceps) required?
- When parents asked questions about labor and delivery complications, were they sidestepped or stonewalled, or were health care providers forthright with information?
Signs of Medical Negligence
A “Yes” answer to any of these questions may lead me to suspect that medical negligence was involved in a child’s cerebral palsy. In that case, if you contact us, my firm would take steps to obtain your child’s medical records and begin the search for the truth behind what happened.
Sometimes we determine that no one was at fault. This, in of itself, can be greatly relieving to parents. They didn’t do anything wrong. There’s nothing they could have done. There is nothing any health care provider did wrong. The cause of some cerebral palsy is still not completely understood, but knowing it was not human error is a huge relief and allows families to move on.
But if we sign you up as a client and our investigation shows that medical error likely played a part, you can be sure we will use all the resources at our command to get you the compensation you deserve and will need to take care of your child for life.
Iowa Verdict for Brain Injured Child