At Sommers Roth & Elmaleh, we regularly represent children, parents, and families who have been affected by brain injuries caused by medical error, negligence, and medical malpractice. We are based in Toronto, represent clients across Canada, and are recognized across the country as one of the leaders in medical malpractice law.
We are passionate about educating our clients about their rights, and regularly provide clients with the resources they need to better understand what may have happened to their child or family member, and what they can do to move forward after a life-altering event or incident. This week, we explore 20 facts about brain injuries caused my medical error, negligence, or malpractice.
Things to Know About Brain Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice or Negligence
1) Brain injuries caused by medical malpractice are often different than brain injuries caused by a slip and fall, or a motor vehicle accident. Individuals who suffered a brain injury after a car or other accident are typically aware of the cause of their injury and are usually represented by personal injury lawyers.
2) In contrast, many people who have brain injuries caused by medical malpractice are unaware that their brain injury may have been preventable. If you or a family member have suffered a brain injury due to the actions of a physician, surgeon, obstetrician, nurse, or other health care professional, you may need the help of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer with specific experience representing clients in medical malpractice brain injury cases.
3) Brain injuries due to medical malpractice can affect anyone- fetuses, babies, children, and adults.
4) Brain injuries affecting babies most commonly occur during labour and delivery as there are many ways for a baby to be deprived of oxygen at this critical time. Even healthy newborns can also develop a brain injury. Brain injuries caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain are sometimes referred to as anoxic brain injuries.
5) Oxygen deprivation (hypoxic insult/ hypoxia or asphyxia) at birth can be caused or affected by several things, including: compression of the umbilical cord (sometimes by forceps), placental abruption, uterine rupture, high blood pressure of the mother (preeclampsia), stroke, breech position of the baby, failure to do an emergency caesarean section in time or improper administration of an epidural.
6) Oxygen deprivation at birth causing brain injury can result in serious, permanent, life-altering conditions for the child, including cerebral palsy, autism, symptoms like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cognitive delay or intellectual disability, developmental delay, speech delay, seizures, and behavioural problems.
7) The risk of brain injury at birth or brain injury during labour and delivery can be mitigated by proper medical care and monitoring of both the fetus and the mother. One example would be delivering the baby by an emergency caesarean section due to abnormal fetal heart rate tracings and fetal distress.
8) Babies with brain injuries may require resuscitation/Code Pink and brain injured babies are often admitted to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). They may show signs of encephalopathy – meaning ‘brain dysfunction’ – including neonatal seizures.
9) Adult brain injuries or brain injuries in older children that are caused by medical malpractice are thought to be less common, but still happen.
10) Adult and older-child (pediatric) brain injuries resulting from medical error can be caused, for example, by a delay in diagnosis or misdiagnosis (for instance a blood clot going undiagnosed, an infection not being noticed).
11) Other common causes of brain injury in older children or adults that may involve medical malpractice include: radiology errors, medication errors, surgical errors, anesthesia errors, and emergency room errors.
12) Common conditions that may result in brain injury to adults and older children due to delay in diagnosis or mistreatment include: diabetes, infection leading to sepsis and septic shock, toxic shock, insulin shock, heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke, blood clot, meningitis, encephalitis, hydro-encephalitis, internal bleeding, and other conditions.
13) Brain injuries caused post-birth resulting from medical error or medical malpractice are sometimes referred to as acquired brain injuries (ABI).
14) ABI includes non-traumatic brain injury caused by tumours, infections, hypoxia, ischemia, hypoglycemia, and similar conditions and events.
15) The effects that brain injuries have on older children or adults will depend on whether the brain injury is mild or severe.
16) Mild brain injuries can result in cognitive problems such as headaches, memory problems, difficulty paying attention, and mood swings. Such cognitive problems are often overlooked, but should still be investigated.
17) Severe brain injuries can result in more significant problems including coma, paralysis, paraplegia, hemiplegia or quadriplegia, impairment of higher level cognitive functions, limited use of arms or legs, abnormal speech, language issues, and emotional problems.
18) The range of injuries is variable, and will depend on the circumstances of each individual including the area of the brain that is injured and the severity of the brain injury.
19) As a person affected by brain injury due to complications at birth (birth injury or birth trauma) or the parent of a child that is affected by such a brain injury, you may seek damages (i.e. compensation) if you believe a doctor or other medical professional made an error or failed to meet their standard of care and caused the injury.
20) OHIP and other government benefits through CCAC or LHINs are rarely sufficient to cover the significant medical and other costs associated with caring for someone with a brain injury.
At Sommers, Roth & Elmaleh, our goal is to protect the rights of families whose lives have been impacted by brain injury resulting from medical malpractice, and help them obtain financial security so that they can begin to move forward. Over the years, we have won some of the largest medical malpractice awards in Canadian history for our clients. We offer contingency fee agreements, meaning our clients pay us nothing unless we are successful. Call us at 1-844-777-7372 or contact us online for a free consultation.
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