Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. However, we typically associate strokes with the elderly population. This is changing. For example, the incidence of thromboembolic stroke is increasing in younger populations as poor health habits take their toll. Likewise, arterial dissections are occurring at a greater rate as a result of high impact sports injuries and car accidents. Strokes can also cause devastating injuries to newborns. These are sometimes caused by medical malpractice, as discussed below.
Medical malpractice lawyers have seen the devastating effects of a catastrophic stroke on clients of varying ages. The damages associated with stroke are greatest when they impact younger individuals, since the costs of care associated with a lengthier lifespan are greater. Elderly patients may already have preexisting disability, along with a limited life expectancy when they suffer a stroke. Similarly, retired individuals do not suffer loss of income or earning capacity as a result of their stroke. In these individuals the economic losses caused by stroke can be limited. Younger individuals, by contrast, face a lifetime of hospital bills, medical bills and other life care expenses, along with severely diminished earnings and earning capacity. The worst of the worst is when one of these devastating injuries occurs to a newborn.
Perinatal arterial ischemic stroke (PAIS) is caused when the blood flow to a major cerebral artery supplying blood to the brain is stopped, resulting in permanent brain damage called an infarction. PAIS is a known cause of long-term neurologic impairment and brain damage. PAIS can occur as a result of a blood clot, trauma, compression, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), vasospasm or inflammation caused by infection.
A medical malpractice lawyer will have to carefully review the newborn’s medical chart and mother’s L&D records, along with imaging such as MRI and CT scans, to determine whether the newborn’s brain injury was the result of medical negligence, a medical error or medical mistake.
There are a variety of ways in which a newborn can suffer brain damage during labor and delivery, or during the subsequent neonatal period. These injuries can result due to excessive force during delivery, or trauma caused by a forceps delivery or vacuum delivery. Trauma may also occur as a result of head compression caused by excessive use of pitocin. Pitocin is used to induce labor but may cause excessive uterine activity that results in perinatal injury. The same goes for oxytocin. According to one expert, “it is crucial for healthcare providers to understand and recognize abnormal signs and symptoms associated with PAIS in the hours after birth and closely watch at-risk infants.” Brain damage to a newborn can result in cerebral palsy, paralysis, and neurocognitive delays, such as impaired concentration, hyperactivity, mood disorders and poor communication skills.
If you have questions about developmental delays or a diagnosis of cerebral palsy related to birth injury or birth trauma, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Cleveland, OH and request an investigation.
Thanks to Mishkind & Kulwicki Law Co. for their insight into personal injury claims and medical malpractice involving newborns.