Cerebral palsy can be caused by a number of factors. Typically, the causes relate to oxygen deprivation. These include umbilical cord problems, cardiac complications, oxygen deficient blood flow, acute maternal hypotension, placental deficiencies and numerous other problems affecting blood oxygen levels. Medical negligence is only one of the possible causes.
Depending upon who you ask, it is estimated that anywhere from 4% to 25% of cerebral palsy cases are caused by medical malpractice. The low end comes from studies conducted in the United States in what some would say is an effort to protect doctors from liability. Just as the low end is understated, the higher end is probably overstated.
Each case requires careful analysis of the medical records to determine if medical malpractice was the cause of the newborn’s cerebral palsy. In order to effectively evaluate a claim, it is necessary to obtain an expert medical review of the prenatal, hospital and birth records.
Oxygen deprivation during birth (Intrapartum Asphyxia) is a leading cause of cerebral palsy. Interestingly, it is most common in full term pregnancies. As such, it is very important to examine the fetal monitoring strips and the APGAR to determine if the baby was deprived of oxygen during the birthing process.
Typically, cerebral palsy resulting from medical negligence will occur during the birthing process. However, it can be caused by postpartum events as well. As such, it is necessary to review the baby’s hospital records and NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) records as well.
A careful review of these records should indicate whether a medical malpractice claim is suggested. Again, there are many causes of cerebral palsy. Medical negligence is not always the root cause. The numbers suggest that at most 25% of cases are the result of medical malpractice.
There are strict deadlines associated with personal injury claims with especially short deadlines on claims against the government which will apply in cerebral palsy cases involving public (local, county, state) hospitals or clinics.
If your child suffers from cerebral palsy, and you suspect medical negligence, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Missing a critical deadline could bar your claims completely.