Clinical negligence: Cerebral Palsy caused by brain injury

Fri 2nd Sep 2022

What is Cerebral Palsy, how is it caused by birth injury and how can you claim compensation for clinical negligence?

Cerebral Palsy, caused by a brain injury during or after birth, can be as a result of clinical negligence. This type of injury is classed as a birth injury to the child and compensation may be claimed.

Childbirth is both an emotionally and physically demanding experience, so when something goes wrong, whether it results in injury or loss, it can be devastating for both the baby and the parents.

What is Cerebral Palsy, how is it caused by brain injury and how can you claim compensation for clinical negligence?

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy is the collective name for a group of life-long disorders that can affect movement, muscle tone, hearing, speech and more. The severity of the symptoms will vary in every child, but it is the most common motor disability in children.

Typically, it occurs if the development of the baby’s brain is affected in the womb or during or shortly after birth. Reduced blood supply, oxygen supply or injury to the brain, a stroke, or infections caught by the mother can all contribute.

It can also happen if the injury to the brain occurs during a difficult birth due to asphyxiation. Other causes include brain infections, serious head trauma, choking or drowning in amniotic fluid and low blood sugar.

There are increased risk factors from premature birth, an underweight baby or a mother who smokes or abuses substances. In these cases, your doctor should recommend regular check-ups to look for symptoms of the condition. You cannot test for Cerebral Palsy during pregnancy. Usually, a scan will be carried out at two years old because the symptoms and extent of the damage are not always immediately apparent, so it is best to wait until this time.

It is the medical professional’s duty to closely monitor and care for both mother and baby throughout the pregnancy and following birth. However, there are occasions when signs are missed or there has been a particularly traumatic birth, which may be as a result of clinical negligence. If you are not sure, we can review medical records for you in detail and identify whether there is a potential claim for damages.

Types of claims often seen

Medical professionals have many responsibilities when caring for pregnant women. The most common type of claim involves a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain, failing to monitor heart rate, recognise sign of distress on Cardiotocograph Traces or delay in making decisions to deliver the baby early.

If the baby is still deprived of oxygen once born, it requires immediate resuscitation. However, in cases where the baby is not immediately resuscitated, this can lead to brain injury resulting in Cerebral Palsy. If the delay is due to a lack of equipment or qualified staff being available, then this may be classed as clinical negligence.

It is common practice to administer oxytocin to increase contractions and speed up labour and many babies are born without complications. However, should the baby show signs of oxygen depletion, such as distress, extreme caution should be taken.

In cases where oxytocin is used to speed up labour instead of delivering the baby already deprived of oxygen, this can cause Cerebral Palsy.

How Coodes can help

At Coodes, we specialise in helping parents of children who have suffered birth injuries and dealing with cases of clinical negligence. If your child has developed Cerebral Palsy or another condition due to a failure of care, we can help.

There are complicated rules around the time limits for bringing these types of claims. More information can be found on this page of our website.

Legal Aid

Legal Aid is available in cases where children have suffered a serious brain injury. This is regardless of whether it occurred during pregnancy, childbirth or their first eight weeks. Should the injury have resulted in severe disability, then public funding may be available. This goes towards investigating a medical negligence claim. Coodes can obtain this type of funding.

Legal Aid funding may be available in cases where children have suffered a serious brain injury however there are strict criteria with injury having to occur during pregnancy, childbirth or their first eight weeks. If a funding certificate is granted, then this covers the costs of investigating a medical negligence claim. We can make the application on your behalf for this funding if eligible however if not, then there are other funding options that are available.

Next Steps

Firstly, if you are concerned about your well-being or the well-being of your child, do seek medical advice.

When pursuing a claim for clinical negligence for a brain injury such as Cerebral Palsy, your child does not need to have a formal diagnosis. It can be difficult to diagnose babies, so be aware this can take up to 12 months or more and potentially not until the scan after the child’s second birthday. However, that is not to say you cannot pursue your case at any time.

Our birth injury lawyers are here to help and guide you through the process. We have successfully supported many clients claim compensation after avoidable birth injuries. If you believe your child’s Cerebral Palsy is due to clinical negligence in any way, get in touch with us.

Fri 2nd Sep 2022

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