Injury at the time of birth to the brain is one of the most common causes of cerebral palsy. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. The word “cerebral” refers to the brain and “palsy” means weakness or problems using the muscles. It is typically caused by damage to the developing brain, which in turn affects a child’s ability to control his or her muscles.
Cerebral palsy symptoms and long-term effects vary from one person to another. A person with severe cerebral palsy might require special equipment in order to be able to walk. Some people with cerebral palsy may not be able to walk at all and need lifelong care. While cerebral palsy may not get worse over time, the symptoms can change over a person’s lifetime. Those with cerebral palsy have issues with movement and posture. Many also have related conditions such as intellectual disabilities, seizures, vision and hearing problems, spine or joint problems.
Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits
If your child has developed cerebral palsy as a result of a birth injury, then you may have a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent (careless) parties including, but not limited to, the obstetrician/doctor, other members of the medical team, the diagnostic team, the hospital, etc. In order to establish medical negligence (carelessness), the plaintiff (injured party) must show that the medical staff or facility was negligent (careless).
There are a number of circumstances and/or medical issues that lead to a birth injury, which causes cerebral palsy. Lack of oxygen or asphyxiation is one cause of brain injury at birth. When oxygen is cut off to the baby’s brain at birth, brain cells can get permanently damaged. In many cases, maternal infections that are not diagnosed or are incorrectly diagnosed may also cause brain damage in fetuses and infants. The mother may pass the infection to the fetus.
Poor medical care can also contribute to cerebral palsy. If the doctor or medical team makes a mistake during delivery, that mistake may have catastrophic consequences for the child. In this case, the physician and the medical team or even the hospital may be held responsible.
Here are some of the most common examples of medical negligence (carelessness) that can lead to cerebral palsy:
• Failure to detect or properly treat infections.
• Failure to detect changes in the fetal heart rate monitor, which may show signs of fetal distress.
• Failure to schedule or perform a medically advisable Cesarean section or C-section.
• Improper use of birth-assistive tools such as vacuum extractors and forceps.
• Failure to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord.
Holding Hospitals Accountable
In cerebral palsy cases, medical malpractice lawsuits can be filed against an individual physician or against the hospital especially in instances where the hospital can be held directly liable for its neglect. Hospitals are expected to have policies and protocols in place to ensure the safety of all patients they serve.
Hospitals are also responsible for the hiring and the retention of medical staff with proper education, licensing and training. If a member of the medical staff does not meet the requirements to practice as a physician, the hospital can be held liable. Hospitals can also be held liable when a birth injury occurs because they are understaffed. They have a duty to maintain sufficient staffing levels to ensure quality patient care.
If your child has developed cerebral palsy as a result of medical negligence (carelessness), you may be able to seek compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. If your child has cerebral palsy he or she may be able to receive compensation that helps pay for medical expenses, cost of therapy, future treatments, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
The experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. One of our clients secured a $2,850,000 verdict in an Erb’s palsy (brachial plexus palsy) case that was reduced by the appeals court to $1,846,000 because the verdict was so large. This was the highest amount upheld by the appellate (appeals) courts for many, many years. In addition we recovered $1,400,000 for a newborn who lost motion in the arm during birth due to doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
We have seen many cases where New York City Health and Hospital Corporation facilities deliver babies who are born with cerebral palsy or Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) stemming from negligence (carelessness), and/or medical malpractice in the labor and delivery etc. of the children.
The following list identifies some of these hospitals (operated by New York City Health and Hospital Corporation):
• Jacobi Hospital aka Bronx Municipal 1400 Pelham Parkway South Bronx, New York 10461 718-918-5000
• Lincoln Hospital 234 East 149th Street Bronx, New York 10451 718-579-5000
• North Central Bronx Hospital 3424 Kossuth Avenue Bronx, New York 10467 718-519-5000
• Coney Island Hospital 2601 Ocean Parkway Brooklyn, New York 11235 718-616-3000
• Kings County Hospital 451 Clarkson Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11203 718-245-3131
• Woodhull Hospital 760 Broadway Brooklyn, New York 11206 718-963-8000
• Bellevue Hospital 462 First Avenue New York, New York 10016 212-562-5555
• Harlem Hospital 506 Lenox Avenue New York, New York 10037 212-939-1000
• Metropolitan Hospital 1901 First Avenue New York, New York 10029 212-423-6262
• Elmhurst Hospital 79-01 Broadway Elmhurst, New York 11373 718-334-4000
• Queens Hospital Center 82-68 164th Street Jamaica, New York 11432 718-883-3000
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