Each year approximately 225,000 people die from medical malpractice and thousands are seriously injured as well, making medical malpractice the third leading cause of death in this country. Medical malpractice is negligence by the act or omission by a health care provider in which the treatment falls below the accepted standard of practice in the medical community and causes an injury or death to the patient. The Law Offices of Dr. Bruce G. Fagel & Associates handles a variety of medical malpractice cases including birth injuries caused to newborn children:
Birth injury – OB/GYN's, nurses, and all medical professionals involved with the labor and delivery process owe a duty to treat the baby and mother with an acceptable standard of care. Medical malpractice can cause serious birth injuries to occur, including traumatic brain injuries, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, mental retardation, Erbs palsy, brachial plexus injury, paralysis, kernicterus, and other serious disorders.
Cerebral palsy – Cerebral palsy is one of the most serious types of birth injuries. Cerebral palsy refers to a motor coordination problem due to an injury to the brain, which controls voluntary movement and coordination. The level of cerebral palsy can range from mild to severe. Symptoms may include the inability to perform fine motor skills or walk, involuntary muscle control, seizures, and developmental delays. Failure to perform a necessary C-section in a timely manner, failure to diagnose an infection in the mother during childbirth, or the improper use of a vacuum or forceps in an instrumental delivery, are just a few examples of how medical malpractice may be responsible for a child's cerebral palsy.
Developmental delay – Developmental delay, sometimes referred to as mental retardation, may be the result of medical malpractice. A developmental delay refers to a child failing to achieve certain developmental milestones such as crawling, walking, talking, or learning compared to other children of the same age range. Although each child reaches these milestones at a slightly different age group, if a child is significantly slower at achieving a developmental milestone, this may be a developmental delay. Developmental delays may occur from medical negligence including hypoxia that was not quickly treated or a traumatic brain injury caused by a doctor.
Kernicterus – Kernicterus is a rare type of brain damage that happens to a newborn child as a result of severe jaundice. A substance known as bilirubin builds up causing mild jaundice, which gives a newborn a slightly yellowish color in the skin and sometimes the eyes. When bilirubin builds up to significant levels and spreads into the brain tissues, it causes permanent brain damage. Kernicterus can be prevented and requires the early treatment of jaundice before it gets too severe. If a doctor fails to detect and treat jaundice and the baby develops kernicterus as a result, the family may have a medical malpractice claim.
Meningitis – Meningitis is an infection in the brain which can happen to people of all ages; however, it is more dangerous to the brain of a baby. There are two types of meningitis, viral and bacterial. Bacterial meningitis if untreated can cause serious injuries to the brain. It requires prompt diagnosis and immediate medical treatment with antibiotics. If the medical staff fails to promptly diagnose and treat bacterial meningitis, the baby can receive severe permanent brain damage as a result.
Mental retardation – Mental retardation is a term which refers to a below normal cognitive brain function. Many cases of mental retardation are the result of hypoxic injury to the brain during labor and delivery or a traumatic injury as the result of the doctor's improper use of a vacuum or forceps during a difficult delivery. This is often in combination with a decrease in oxygen to the fetus during delivery.
Paralysis, including paraplegia and quadriplegia – Paralysis refers to the inability to move a group of muscles because of an injury to a nerve. If the injury happens in the spinal cord, the result can be the inability for the baby to move his or her legs (paraplegia) or both the arms and the legs (quadriplegia). Other paralysis injuries include Erbs palsy which is caused by an injury to the brachial plexus.
Premature delivery – If a pregnancy results in the delivery of a baby before 36 weeks, it is labeled a pre-term. A premature delivery covers the time frame of 26 weeks to 36 weeks of pregnancy. A delivery before 26 weeks is usually non-viable. A delivery before 32 weeks will present a risk of immature lungs which can result in significant hypoxia or a lack of oxygen to the brain of the baby after delivery. Babies born before 34 weeks will usually require some level of mechanical assistance for ventilation. Premature babies are also at a greater risk to develop cerebral palsy and other disorders.
Traumatic brain injuries – If the obstetrician improperly uses the forceps or vacuum during a difficult delivery, the baby may receive a traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries can result in the development of cerebral palsy or a host of other life-long disorders, even death.
Wrongful death – If medical malpractice leads to the death of a newborn, the family can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible medical professional or medical facility. The heirs to the child are the parents.
If your child has been seriously injured or died due to medical malpractice from a doctor, nurse, or hospital, contact California medical malpractice attorney Dr. Bruce Fagel for a free consultation. Dr. Fagel represents victims of medical malpractice nationwide. Dr. Fagel is a medical malpractice lawyer and a licensed physician.
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