How to Determine if Your Child Suffered a Birth Injury
Howard A. Janet
CPFN Legal Advisor
Parents who come to me for advice about a birth injury lawsuit already suspect something went wrong during the delivery of their child. They are armed with a recent diagnosis of cerebral palsy or some other disorder, and desperately want to know the truth about what happened. Were they to blame? Was the doctor? The hospital? Or was it the result of something that couldn’t be foreseen or prevented?
While cases of medical negligence leading to a serious birth injury are rare, statistics show that 2-4 out of every 1,000 children born in the U.S. will develop cerebral palsy. It is the most common motor disability in childhood, yet it may sometimes take years to diagnose. In fact, some 15% of all cases are diagnosed when a child goes to pre-school.
Approximately 20% of CP cases are caused by babies being deprived of sufficient oxygen during labor and delivery. It is well established that medical malpractice is sometimes to blame. Identifying those cases and recovering meaningful compensation is what we do.
As an attorney who has focused my practice on cerebral palsy and birth injuries for more than 40 years, and who has reviewed some 30,000 cases, here are some questions I ask parents who suspect their child has suffered a birth injury:
- What was the condition of your child at birth (breathing, crying, moving…or limp and needing resuscitation)?
- Did your child have an extended hospital stay after birth?
- If so, was your child in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)?
- Did your child have an abnormal ultrasound, CT-scan, or MRI of the brain?
- Did your child experience seizures during the first few days of life?
- Has your child been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or brain damage?
- Do you have copies of your child’s medical records?
- Did the mother experience a problem during labor or delivery that was clearly an unexpected or emergency situation, such as unrelenting pain or bleeding?
- Was there ever a situation in which parents sensed that doctors and nurses were worried, that something wasn’t “right,” that resulted in a change in procedures (i.e., placing you on oxygen or moving you from side to side)?
- When parents asked questions about labor and delivery complications, were they sidestepped or stonewalled, or were healthcare providers forthright with information?
Determining if Medical Error Played a Role
A “Yes” answer to any of these questions may lead me to suspect that medical negligence was involved in a child’s cerebral palsy. In that case, my firm would take steps to obtain your child’s medical records and begin the search for the truth behind what happened.
Sometimes, we determine that no one was at fault. This, in and of itself, can be a great relief to parents. They didn’t do anything wrong. There’s nothing they could have done. There is nothing any health care provider did wrong. The cause of some cerebral palsy is still not completely understood, but knowing it was not human error is a huge relief and allows families to move on.
If we do sign you up as a client and our research shows that medical error clearly played a part in your child’s cerebral palsy, you can be sure we will use all the resources at our command to get you the compensation you deserve and will need to take care of your child for life.
What Parents Can Do
If you suspect your child’s cerebral palsy is the result of a medical error during birth, contact us to discuss your potential case. We are proud supporters of the CP Family Network, where you can find valuable resources and information to improve the quality of life of your CP child. I also encourage you to visit the CP Family Network Facebook page, where you can connect with other parents and caregivers from across the country.