Cerebral palsy often stems from medical malpractice around the time of birth (making it a birth injury), and many parents choose to sue the doctors or hospitals that are responsible. Information collected from these legal cases could shed light on the types of medical errors most likely to contribute to a cerebral palsy diagnosis; however, there is a notable lack of such data collection. Leyin Zhou and colleagues recently attempted to address this gap in research by analyzing 400 cerebral palsy malpractice cases in China. The information they used came from the China Judgements Online, a database that includes basic information about cases, risk factors for cerebral palsy, medical errors, liability determination, and compensation.
Findings: important risk factors and errors responsible for cerebral palsy
Zhou et al. found that birth asphyxia and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) were the most common risk factors for cerebral palsy (up to 63.5% of the infants in their study had experienced asphyxia, and 63.3% had been diagnosed with HIE). Other important risks and medical errors included the following:
- Neonatal infection (52.3%)
- Intracranial hemorrhage (36.0%)
- Failure to complete delivery in time (30.2%)
- Insufficient fetal heart monitoring, lack of knowledge about abnormalities during the birthing process, and failure to recognize signs of fetal distress (28.8%)
- Nonstandard medical records (25.3%)
89.1% of civil judgement for cerebral palsy cases resulted in liability for medical errors. On average, each case involved 2.5 identified medical errors. Compensation was awarded in 91.4% of claims.
The authors note that greater attention needs to be paid to the care of premature infants, as they are more susceptible to cerebral palsy and other birth injuries. In their study, there was no difference in the distribution of medical errors between preemies and full-term babies. They write, “This observation indicates that the medical service provider did not take the initiative to avoid the risk of CP in preterm infants through more careful treatment, preparation for rescue and resuscitation in advance, or notification of the family members about related risks actively.”
Moreover, they conclude that in order to minimize the number of children who develop cerebral palsy as the result of a birth injury, medical organizations should emphasize the importance of fetal monitoring and standardized medical record writing.
To read Zhou et al.’s full paper, please click here.
Legal help for cerebral palsy and other birth injuries
Determining whether a child’s cerebral palsy is the result of medical negligence is crucial in determining eligibility for compensation permitted by the law. Unfortunately, a number of families avoid medical malpractice litigation for different reasons – some fear confrontation, some feel they don’t have the resources, some simply feel overwhelmed, and others doubt they have a case. The best – and only – way to find out if you have a cerebral palsy case is to reach out to an attorney for a legal consultation. An experienced birth injury attorney will do a thorough investigation of the medical records and review the case with expert medical professionals to determine whether negligent care was the cause of a child’s cerebral palsy.
These case evaluations are free of charge and obligation. For that matter, you pay nothing throughout the entire legal process unless we win your case. Please reach out today to learn more. Our firm is based in Michigan, but we handle cases in many parts of the U.S.
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Related reading on malpractice, birth injury, and cerebral palsy:
- What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
- How Do I Choose the Right Birth Injury Lawyer for My Case?
- Medical Malpractice Attorneys for Babies
- Working with ABC Law Centers: The Legal Process
- Client Testimonials
- Medical Malpractice Law: An Overview
Zhou, L., Li, H., Li, C., & Li, G. (2019). Risk management and provider liabilities in infantile cerebral palsy based on malpractice litigation cases. Journal of forensic and legal medicine, 61, 82-88.