California Medical Malpractice
Medical Malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional breaches the standard of care in providing a diagnosis and/or treatment to a patient. The breach of the standard of care must be a factor in the cause of injury to the patient in order to pursue tort claims.
The term "standard of care" refers to generally accepted skills and practices that a healthcare practitioner must conform to in treating a patient with a specific disease or illness. Similarly, medical practitioner's degree of skill, education, training, and experience must match that of other qualified practitioners in the area under similar circumstances. Standards of care are becoming more streamlined and consistent across the country; for instance, fields of medicine like obstetrics are monitored by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), which provides written protocols.
The legal element of "causation" requires that the injured patient prove that the failure of the healthcare practitioner to meet the standard of care was a substantial factor in causing harm to the patient. Illustrating that the standard of care was not met by a medical practitioner is done using evidence and expert witnesses in many cases. The Law Offices of William C. Bibb has handled hundreds of medical malpractice cases over the years, representing the victims of serious birth injuries in many instances.
Birth injuries: Erb's Palsy and Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a motor disability. CP is often associated with a baby or child exhibiting distinct writhing or dancing movements. CP can be diagnosed by a pediatric neurologist, and sometimes causes sensory impairments resulting in muscle weakness and/or compromised muscle control. CP is caused by brain damage to the baby before, during, or after birth. It is estimated that one in every 323 children have CP. There is currently no cure for CP, but the disease does not progress over time.
Erb's palsy is a form of a brachial plexus injury. Erb's palsy is a nerve disorder that affects the network of spinal nerves that run from the neck down the shoulder and into the brachial plexus. Erb's palsy affects the upper arm, and can often be treated with physical therapy.
Cerebral palsy and Erb's palsy have numerous causes, many of which are not linked to any kind of negligence. In some cases, however, physicians do make mistakes before, during, and after delivery that damage a baby's brain, nerves, and/or muscle function. For example, applying too much traction to a baby's head during delivery is a common cause of Erb's palsy.
Cerebral Palsy Causes and Risk Factors
Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the part of the baby's brain called the cerebrum. The frontal-temporal lobes of the cerebrum control "executive functions" like memory, communication, muscle control, and the ability to learn. Viruses, infections, genetics, and other variables can cause damage to the baby's developing brain long before he or she is born. However, experiencing a lack of oxygen during birth is a major cause of brain damage as well.
Multiple factors and conditions can occur during the birthing process, which contribute to a baby suffering a lack of oxygen or blood circulation. Undiagnosed medical problems in the mother or child can affect the delivery. Beyond that, failing to recognize whether and when performing a cesarean section is necessary can delay the delivery and cause distress to the baby. A placental tear can affect the baby's oxygen levels, and the rate at which the baby travels down the birth canal can also be a factor.
Cerebral palsy resulting from medical negligence is the basis for many medical malpractice lawsuits filed against physicians and hospitals. In addition to mistakes made during the birthing process, doctors and medical facilities can also be held responsible for mistakes made after a baby is born. Failing to place a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can result in the baby experiencing brain damage. There have been incidents where pediatricians have made dangerous mistakes in the treatment of babies as well.
It is important to note that many of the complications that result in difficult deliveries causing injuries to mothers and babies are avoidable. Too many healthcare providers fail to meet the standard of care for their specialty. In a significant number of birth injury cases, injuries sustained during the birthing process are actually the result of inadequate prenatal care and/or diagnosis.
Birth Injury Risk Factors and Causes Include:
-- Low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds)
-- Multiple births, such as twins or triplets
-- Premature birth
-- Conception using fertility treatments
-- Infection/s during pregnancy
-- Maternal diabetes, including gestational-induced diabetes or hypertension
-- Seizure disorder or thyroid issues in the mother
-- Uterine rupture
-- Umbilical cord problems, placenta previa, nucal cord, partial or full abruption (detachment)
-- Disruption of oxygen to the baby's brain (hypoxia, anoxia).
-- Complications during delivery such as compound presentations, breech presentation, or dystocia
-- Drug use by the mother (prescription or otherwise).
-- Anesthesia mishaps during labor and delivery.
Holding Liable Parties Responsible for Birth Injuries
As a birth injury and medical malpractice attorney, my primary responsibility is to my clients. It is my duty to be aggressive and diligent in my representation of birth injury victims and their families. In addition to accounting for the immediate medical needs of the babies and children I represent, I also seek damages for their continued medical care and life needs. My firm conducts exhaustive investigations into the plaintiff's prenatal records and ultrasound examinations. Beyond that, I refer to experts in obstetrics, anesthesiology, and neonatology. Depending upon the type of cerebral palsy that the plaintiff is diagnosed with, it is important for me as his or her legal advocate to anticipate his or her resulting disabilities and care needs in order to secure the appropriate damages.