Can An Error During Labor & Delivery Cause Cerebral Palsy?


Cerebral palsy can result in lifelong disabilities and is among the most common types of motor disorders diagnosed in children in the U.S. Many cases of cerebral palsy result from errors doctors and other medical staff make during labor and delivery. When nurses or doctors fail to meet the expected standard of care during the labor and delivery process, a brain injury resulting in cerebral palsy can occur in infants. The parents of babies who develop cerebral palsy as a result of a medical provider’s negligence during delivery might be entitled to pursue compensation by filing medical malpractice lawsuits against the negligent medical professionals with the help of the experienced Philadelphia Cerebral Palsy lawyers at Raynes & Lawn.

Causes Of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy results from damage to the brain. In some cases, cerebral palsy develops because of developmental problems with how the brain forms. The causes of these types of malformations might include chromosomal abnormalities, genetic disorders, or problems with the brain’s blood supply. If a baby’s brain includes malformations in the parts of the brain that control motor function, the baby might develop cerebral palsy. The more common reason why cerebral palsy might develop is when an injury or illness causes neurological damage to a baby’s brain that was previously developing normally. While the neurological causes are not completely understood, there are several factors that can cause damage to the areas of the brain that control movement during labor and delivery.

Some of these causes of damage during labor and delivery that can lead to cerebral palsy include the following:

  • Injury and trauma during a difficult birth
  • Infections during pregnancy
  • Jaundice in the infant
  • Disruptions to the brain’s oxygen supply
  • Rh incompatibility between the baby and mother
  • Stroke

When cerebral palsy is caused by a birth injury, the parents might have the right to pursue compensation when the injury was caused by a medical provider’s negligence.

Causes Of Cerebral Palsy

Claims Involving Cerebral Palsy From Birth Injury

When a doctor-patient relationship is formed through which the doctor agrees to provide medical care that the patient agrees to accept, the doctor owes a duty to the patient to provide care that meets the expected standard for reasonably competent doctors in the same geographic area and in the same field of practice. This means that when a doctor agrees to provide treatment to a pregnant woman, the doctor will owe a duty of care to both the woman and her baby. When a doctor or another medical provider provides care that falls below the expected standard of care while a woman is in labor or during the delivery of her baby, serious injuries can result. Victims of injuries caused by medical negligence during labor and delivery have a right to recover compensation and hold the negligent doctor accountable through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

To prevail with a birth injury claim, the plaintiff will need to prove the following legal elements:

  • A doctor-patient relationship existed
  • The doctor had a duty to provide care that met the expected standard of care
  • The treatment provided by the doctor deviated from the expected standard of care
  • The substandard treatment proximately caused the birth injury
  • The plaintiff suffered calculable damages as a result

Duty To Recognize Signs Of Fetal Distress

If a fetus or newborn suffers an interruption in the oxygen supply to the brain, brain damage and cerebral palsy can result. Nurses and doctors who provide care during labor and delivery have a duty to provide reasonable medical care, including the duty to watch for the signs of fetal distress and appropriately intervene. When a medical provider fails to recognize the signs of fetal distress or to promptly intervene, irreversible injuries can result. Failing to identify or respond to the signs of fetal distress might be grounds for a medical malpractice claim when the baby develops cerebral palsy as a result.

Examples Of Medical Negligence During Labor And Delivery

Some examples of medical negligence that can cause cerebral palsy during labor and delivery include the following:

  • Failing to properly monitor the fetal heartbeat
  • Failing to perform a medically necessary emergency C-section
  • Failing to perform a C-section in time to prevent potential brain damage
  • Improperly using forceps to assist a difficult delivery
  • Failing to identify and properly treat Rh incompatibility

Many medical professionals use internal fetal heart rate monitors to help identify fetal distress caused by a disruption in the oxygen supply. During difficult labor, the monitor can help to notify nurses and doctors when a fetus is in distress. Failing to use this type of monitor can mean that the doctor is not notified when the fetus is cut off from oxygen, leading to serious damage and irreversible injuries.

How A Birth Injury Attorney Might Help

Our birth injury lawyers can analyze the medical records in consultation with medical experts to help determine the applicable standard of care and whether your medical providers deviated from it. In some cases, providers might miss symptoms or fail to appropriately communicate with the nurses present in the room. This can cause delays in time and errors that can result in brain damage and cerebral palsy.If the medical expert confirms that the doctor’s care fell below the expected standard of care and caused your child’s cerebral palsy, we will help by fully investigating your case and gathering evidence to support your claim. We can handle all aspects of your claim and pursue maximal compensation on your behalf.

Get Help From Our Experienced Legal Team

If you believe that your medical providers made mistakes during your labor and delivery that might have caused your child’s birth injury and cerebral palsy, you should request a consultation with the birth injury lawyers at Raynes & Lawn. We have more than 50 years of experience helping medical malpractice victims hold negligent medical professionals accountable. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation by calling us at 1-800-535-1797.


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