Cerebral Palsy: Born This Way or Medical Malpractice?

Jul 20, 2015

Learning your newborn or toddler has cerebral palsy can be devastating. You can go years without knowing how severe the problem is even as you struggle to meet the expenses and emotional tolls inflicted by the needs for immediate and long-term care. You also face the uncertainty of not really knowing how the brain injury that left your young child facing a lifetime of motor disability occurred. Your natural instinct may be to look for someone to blame, and you actually may find someone.

What Causes CP?

Cerebral palsy, which often gets shortened to CP, usually develops before birth. It can also emerge during delivery or within a child’s first year of life. Damage to the developing brain impairs muscle development and leaves children unable to fully control parts of their bodies. Symptoms can range from mild stiffness and lack of coordination to complete paralysis. Seizures, tremors, and impaired intellectual ability often accompany the worst cases of CP.

The root cause points to potential liability for health care providers such as doctors, nurses and midwives. Look at this list of issues and actions that can harm a baby’s brain enough to cause CP:

  • Genetic mutations
  • Infections a mother suffers while pregnant
  • Interruption of blood flow to the fetus (i.e., fetal stroke)
  • Cutting off oxygen to the baby during delivery (i.e., asphyxia)
  • Infections like encephalitis and meningitis that cause swelling in or around the brain during the first few months of a baby’s life
  • Traumatic brain injury

Errors and negligence by medical professionals can lead to or worsen many of these potential cerebral palsy risks. For instance, an obstetrician who fails to diagnosis or treat a mother’s illness can put the infant forming in her womb in danger. Another, much scarier and more visible mistake could be made by a birthing nurse who drops a baby on his head. Sadly, such instances of gross negligence in hospitals have been documented.

Seek Expert Opinions

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 1 in every 320 babies born in the United States each year has some form of cerebral palsy. Without directly witnessing a health care provider act harmfully or unprofessionally, how can you know whether your child’s CP resulted from bad luck, medical malpractice or a birth injury? The short answer is that you cannot without seeking input from experts who have full access to you and your child’s medical histories, all the relevant health records and the doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists and others who provided treatment throughout your pregnancy, delivery and postnatal period.

Getting in touch with such experts can seem impossible, but the experienced Ohio birth injury lawyers with Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman can help with this. We have a wide and deep network of health professionals, medication specialists, and child development experts with whom we can connect you.

Reaching out to us for a free consultation can prove beneficial even if you decide not to pursue a cerebral palsy lawsuit. CP has no cure, and treatment plans must be customized to the specific and evolving needs of each child. Most people with cerebral palsy require lifelong care, and those with the most extensive physical and intellectual disabilities can require mobility equipment and 24-hour assistance. Building a team of knowledgeable and dedicated caregivers early in a CP patient’s life pays endless dividends.

An excellent place to start looking for general information about cerebral palsy is the CP webpage maintained by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Should You File a Lawsuit Over CP?

Only you can make that decision. As ethical Ohio medical malpractice attorneys, the legal staff at Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman will only represent clients who have strong evidence showing that they or a loved one suffered at the hands of a negligent or reckless health care provider. We can never guarantee a client will win his or her case, however.

You will need to decide for yourself whether the information you receive from the experts who review and comment on your child’s condition and medical history justifies going to court. And expect going to court. Hospitals and doctors rarely settle malpractice claims quickly, so you must be prepared to engage in a long, tough legal fight decided by a judge or jury. You must also be prepared to have all your actions and decisions called into question by the lawyers representing the hospital or health care provider you ask to pay compensation and damages.

We can offer additional information, such as estimates on the cost of lifelong CP-related health care and examples of outcomes from cases similar to your own, but we cannot make the ultimate choice of whether to sue. To begin exploring whether you have grounds to pursue a lawsuit, call us at (800) 678-3318 or share your story using this online contact form.

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Worker’s Comp Lawyers Columbus, Ohio - Agee Clymer

140 E. Town St. #1100
Columbus, OH 43215