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Cerebral palsy is a term used to reference a group of disorders typically related to an individual’s inability to control their motor function. It can be categorized into four types: spastic cerebral palsy, athetoid or dyskinetic cerebral palsy, ataxic cerebral palsy, or mixed forms of cerebral palsy. Medical errors that may lead to cerebral palsy include: the failure to recognize and treat infection; failure to perform C-section when the fetus is in distress; failure to detect prolapsed umbilical cord; improper response to changes in vital signs; delayed delivery or failure to properly treat preeclampsia.
Fetal hypoxia is a common cause of cerebral palsy. This can be caused by allowing the baby to remain too long in the birth canal, failing to diagnose infection of the lining of the uterus, failing to treat certain risk factors, failing to diagnose fetal distress, or not properly monitoring vital signs. The failure to diagnose and/or treat oxygen deprivation in the fetus can impair the baby’s brain development and their function, leading to cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy appears during infancy or early childhood with symptoms that include a delay in a child’s motor reflexes. Slow development, abnormal postures and lack of muscle tone may all be the early signs of cerebral palsy. Healthcare professionals may order diagnostic tests, including CT scans and brain imaging studies, in order to diagnose or rule out cerebral palsy. Children diagnosed with cerebral palsy may be helped with early intervention by enrolling a child in occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy to help maximize his or her abilities. A settlement or jury verdict can greatly assist with these costs and ensure that everything is being done to get the best possible result for your child.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy vary with children as well as with various forms of the disease. Signs and symptoms may range from being mild to quite severe. A child with cerebral palsy may exhibit some of the following signs: abnormal muscle tone, floppy or stiff movements, loss of coordination and balance, skeletal deformities, poor head control, difficulty feeding, swallowing or suckling, difficulty with speech, hearing or vision, impaired sense of touch /decreased sensitivity to pain, breathing difficulties, or the inability to control bladder and bowels. Additionally, some children may suffer from seizures and developmental disabilities.
Although cerebral palsy may occur without medical negligence, the majority of cases show that cerebral palsy could have been prevented or mitigated through vigilant, attentive, prenatal obstetric care. A detailed investigation into the birthing circumstances of the child that has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy will determine whether medical negligence was a factor. Negligence factors may include a failure to diagnose or treat fetal distress during which time the baby experiences fetal hypoxia. If a healthcare provider, including a nurse or obstetrician, did not respond in a timely manner or report problems to their superior, this failure could be the basis for a medical malpractice claim.
Hypoxia and asphyxia in the newborn is caused by the partial or complete interruption of the flow of oxygenated blood to the baby’s brain. In newborns this often presents itself as fetal distress, prior to or during delivery. Although electronic fetal monitoring systems are in place, nurses do not always appreciate or understand the significance of the readouts. If a nurse fails to recognize the signs of fetal hypoxia, just as if the doctor fails to take some action to correct the situation, the results may include brain damage, cerebral palsy and even death. The negligent diagnosis and treatment of any of the following conditions may also result in the long-lasting disability, mental retardation, developmental delay, or death of a child: placental abruption, uterine rupture, umbilical cord complications, preeclampsia, delayed delivery, low amniotic fluid, uterine hyperstimulation, or the improper administration of epidural anesthesia.
If your child has cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence, our firm can help you obtain the compensation you deserve to help pay for the lifetime of care needed for your child, including: wheelchairs, handicapped accessible vans, lift systems, home healthcare assistance, modification to your home to make it handicapped accessible, special schooling, and even 24 hour nursing care.