Cerebral palsy is a complex medical condition caused by brain damage. When a baby experiences any form of brain damage from physical trauma or oxygen deprivation before or during childbirth, they may develop cerebral palsy. This condition can entail a wide range of symptoms and is incurable, meaning any damage a child’s brain sustains is permanent and likely to affect them for the rest of their life.
Sometimes, a birth injury that results in cerebral palsy is an unavoidable issue, while in other cases, the development of cerebral palsy is the result of an attending physician’s medical negligence. If you believe a recent birth injury that resulted in your child’s development of cerebral palsy occurred due to medical negligence, it is essential to understand the value of legal representation and what to expect from filing a medical malpractice claim.
Understanding the Standard of Care
Medical professionals must use approved tools, techniques, and treatments based on a patient’s condition. A doctor must complete a thorough diagnostic process to accurately assess a patient’s condition and determine the best available treatment based on the medical community’s consensus. The “standard of care” refers to the level of treatment a patient should expect to receive for a given condition. Doctors may not deviate from this standard of care except in extraordinary circumstances, and even then, should only do so with the utmost caution.
The first step in determining whether you can file a medical malpractice claim for cerebral palsy is to ascertain the standard of care the situation demands. If you think your doctor breached their duty to adhere to the standard of care for your recent childbirth procedure, consider a few examples of a failure to uphold the standard of care:
- The doctor failed to monitor the mother’s or the child’s vital signs during delivery, which resulted in oxygen deprivation that subsequently caused cerebral palsy.
- The attending delivery team did not identify the signs of an infection that caused brain damage to the child.
- The delivery team failed to diagnose and treat the child properly after birth.
- The doctor failed to move to a cesarean section operation when the situation demanded it.
- The delivery team failed to act in time to prevent brain injury to the child.
- The doctor used medical devices, such as forceps or vacuum extraction equipment, improperly.
- The doctor failed to identify nuchal cord obstruction and address the problem correctly.
These are just a few possible examples of when a failure to uphold the standard of care can cause cerebral palsy.
Next Steps in Taking Legal Action for Cerebral Palsy
If your family determines that the physician responsible for a recent childbirth procedure directly caused an infant to develop cerebral palsy due to a failure to adhere to the standard of care, the next step in taking legal action would be to connect with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. While a medical malpractice claim is functionally similar to a personal injury claim in several ways, you must understand some key differences before committing to legal action.
First, you must determine the full scope of the damages you intend to claim. Cerebral palsy has a high chance of negatively impacting a child’s life in numerous ways. Some children with cerebral palsy develop minor disabilities but can carry on independent and fulfilling lives. In contrast, others experience profound disabilities that leave them completely dependent on constant medical care and other treatments for their entire lives. An experienced attorney can help you ascertain the additional medical expenses, long-term care your child will require, lost income, and other damages you have grounds to claim through your medical malpractice lawsuit.
The Value of Legal Representation in Cerebral Palsy Cases
Attempting to navigate any legal action without representation is incredibly challenging. When it comes to cases as complex as a medical malpractice action for cerebral palsy, legal counsel you can trust is critical if you want to succeed with your claim. Your medical malpractice claim must pass through a review process before you can proceed with the actual legal action; the medical board with jurisdiction over the defendant must review your claim to determine whether you have the right to sue. If approved, you can proceed with your legal action.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you hold a negligent medical professional accountable for the damage they caused to your child due to their failure to adhere to the standard of care your childbirth procedure required. If you are unsure whether your child’s cerebral palsy case constitutes grounds for legal action against a negligent medical professional, contact McLachlan Law, APC, today to schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about your legal options.