Monday, September 16, 2019

How to deal with Medical Malpractice Induced Cerebral Palsy

Consideration was given for the editing and publication of this post.

From becoming pregnant to giving birth, the journey has many joyous moments for the parents. But, sometimes the celebration may turn into disbelief, anger, and grief when parents discover their bundle of joy has cerebral palsy. Such a discovery has a significant impact on both the parents and the child, with long-term financial, social and emotional effects. While cerebral palsy can happen through no one’s fault, it is unfortunate that 10 percent of babies develop it due to medical malpractice. Thinking that your baby's condition was caused by human error brings out a lot of mixed feelings, and many parents will, and rightly so, seek compensation. Let’s explore ways to deal with medical malpractice induced cerebral palsy.
1. Understanding Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect body movement, muscle coordination, and brain functioning. Mostly, cerebral palsy happens when the brain has abnormalities during labor or soon after. However, the signs and symptoms become visible after months or years, but with extreme cases, they can get detected right after birth.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are several types of Cerebral palsy;
Spastic cerebral palsy: It causes stiffness due to muscle tightness. leading to challenges like letting go of things, holding onto things and difficulty in moving around. Spastic cerebral palsy accounts for approximately 80 percent of cases globally.
Athetoid cerebral palsy: It’s a type of cerebral palsy that accounts for 10 percent of the cases and is characterized by involuntary movements, slurred speech, reduced muscle tone, and difficulty in swallowing.
Ataxic cerebral palsy: It causes tremors, problems with coordination and movement, depth perception and balance.It accounts for the remaining 10percent of cases.
Take into account that a  child can have a mixed-type of  cerebral palsy with a combination of the above types.
      ·          Indication that your child has Cerebral Palsy
Most of the cerebral palsy symptoms have a significant impact on the child’s look, expressions, and feelings. Several symptoms affect each child differently, and they include:
Motor coordination and control- When areas of the brain get affected by the deformation or an injury, it’s hard for the brain to communicate to the other parts of the body. This leads to difficulty moving, walking, and impaired motor function.
Reduced muscle tone: The weakening of muscles due to the brain’s inability to communicate effectively with the limbs, leads to poor muscle tone. After a while, the muscles become too weak and are unable to perform their duties leading to reduced  motor function.
Balance and Posture: Most children with cerebral palsy have difficulty maintaining proper body balance and posture. It is due to the designated muscles being unable to provide support. Thus the balance becomes affected and then weakened.
Oral motor function: Despite the child understanding or having any knowledge of language, the brain often finds it hard to coordinate with the speech muscles. Thus, it prevents the child from forming words causing slurred speech.
Some of the secondary conditions that happen are due to arising complications of the primary symptoms. These conditions may become progressive, and while sometimes, they don’t — treatment and therapy helps to reduce the occurrence or severity of the secondary diseases. 
2. Medical Malpractice and Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy can happen due to medical malpractice, and it’s often associated with injuries during birth or pregnancy. It is primarily due to failure and delayed action in detecting injuries that may impair brain function and development. When the brain gets insufficient oxygen (hypoxia), and the body also gets insufficient oxygen (asphyxia), the result is cerebral palsy. When medical negligence happens to cause cerebral palsy, the standard errors include;
      ·          Infections
 Infections occur during pregnancy or due to injuries during birth causing a threat to brain development. They trigger elevated internal temperature, an immune response, and increased bilirubin levels. Such an infection for both the mother and child should be treated by administering of antibiotics early enough.
      ·          Placenta detachment during birth
 Failure to monitor both the child and mother for various signs of distress when in labor and during delivery may lead to the placenta detaching itself, causing uncontrolled bleeding. The uncontrolled bleeding limits the brain from receiving enough supply of blood.
      ·          Head Injuries
 During assisted delivery, using devices like vacuum or forceps may cause injuries to the head. Swelling and bleeding of the scalp caused by delivery devices to help suction out the child’s head can cause caput succedaneum.
      ·          Lack of proper monitoring
 Failure of the physician to monitor the child's progress and detect infections, abnormalities, mutations, and other baby risk factors may cause neurological disorders. Also, failure to follow the heart rate of both the child and mother during delivery to detect fetal distress leads to reduced oxygen and blood supply. During such difficulty, the doctor should perform an emergency caesarean section.
3. Taking action due to Medical malpractice
A  child with cerebral palsy takes a toll on the family’s emotions, finances, and physical energy, leaving them drained and angry. However, you can file a lawsuit that holds the medical team liable for their negligence. It may lead to compensation for the family and child, but the filing and  litigation of the lawsuit can be time-consuming and complicated. Having a knowledgeable lawyer both medically and legally may help to make the process easy and faster. To make the trial more robust, you need:
      ·          An Experienced Cerebral Palsy Lawyer
Talk to a lawyer experienced in handling cerebral palsy malpractice cases within your area. Such lawyers should have a unique understanding of medical terms and the ability to determine if actual malpractice took place.
      ·          Medical Reports
The specialized birth injury attorney plays a vital role when it comes to getting medical reports from the hospital. Medical reports become an integral part of your lawsuit and they happen to be complicated and nuanced. Having a detailed and written report helps the lawyers to understand the negligence involved. The report should outline every detail from the first visit during pregnancy to childbirth to determine whether the doctor ignored the warning signs. The correct records help to build a strong case, and sometimes you need a lawyer to ask for a court order to receive such a report from the hospitals.
4. Observe the Timeline for filing Cerebral palsy lawsuits
Once your legal team decides to file a lawsuit for cerebral palsy malpractice, the process can become tiring. It may take months sometimes years to see any progress since the lawyers need to understand the level of damage done to your child. Remember, not all cerebral palsy’s symptoms become evident immediately, so managing your expectations will prevent anger and disappointment. Most lawyers start the case when the child is two years since they have a  reliable prognosis to move forward with the lawsuit. However, ensure that your child gets the proper medication to reduce the various symptoms associated with cerebral palsy.
5. The Compensation amount
Every child’s case is different, and the justice provided is unique. However, most of the cerebral palsy lawyers fight for all benefits according to the evidence presented in court. Also, some hospitals may opt to settle the case out of court; hence, the lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company for a certain amount. The monetary recovery damages include
       Every medical expense incurred both past and current
      The cost of treating the child in the future
      Non-tangible damages for mental anguish, child pain family suffering and emotiona distress.
       Family expenses and home care costs.
      Money for any future surgical needs
      Funds for the supplies and equipment required eg. wheelchairs
      Cost of special education and counselling.
       Funds to cater for speech, occupational and physical therapies
The anguish, anger, and frustration that a parent feels knowing the condition of their child was caused due to medical malpractice are understandable. Take action and let your child receive the full compensation to cater for all damages according to the applicable law.

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