July is National Medical Malpractice Awareness Month

Every July, the National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association (NMMAA) organizes and promotes National Medical Malpractice Awareness Month. Founded in 2013, the NNMAA is a unique United States civil rights organization that aims to promote education, awareness, advocacy, activism, investigation, and response surrounding medical negligence and malpractice. The NMMAA has selected July for National Medical Malpractice Awareness Month and, according to their website,

“This month provides an excellent opportunity for our Organization to demonstrate its support in ending negligent acts of harm and endangerment and to support the numerous victims and their families who have lost loved ones by medical negligence. Moreover, it is a great opportunity to educate the public on the seriousness of medical negligence and the struggle for justice for those who have no voice.” –NMMAA

Throughout this page, the birth injury attorneys and professionals from Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys will discuss how instances of medical malpractice cause birth injuries and cerebral palsy. Should you have any questions about the material covered throughout this page or a personal case inquiry, please reach out to our legal team. Our staff consists of professionals with extensive knowledge of birth injury law, fetal respiration, obstetrics, cerebral palsy, and disabilities. You may contact Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys by calling our office toll-free at (888) 592-1857, pressing the Live Chat button to your left, completing this online contact form, or pressing the following contact button.

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Cerebral Palsy and Medical Malpractice

What is Medical Malpractice?

Cerebral Palsy from Medical MalpracticeMedical malpractice refers to any instance in which a health care provider fails to follow standards of care, thereby injuring, harming, or killing a patient. Although the terms medical malpractice and medical negligence are often used interchangeably, they have their own definitions. Below, we’ve defined both terms:

  • Medical negligence: When a medical professional deviates from the standards of care but the patient is not injured or harmed, an instance of medical negligence has occurred.
  • Medical malpractice: When an act of medical negligence results in harm or an injury to the patient, it is medical malpractice.

How Common is Medical Malpractice?

According to a 2013 Journal of Patient Safety study, roughly 440,000 deaths occur as the result medical malpractice every year. In fact, fatal hospital mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the United States following heart attack and cancer. Medical malpractice can affect any person that undergoes medical treatment.

What is Cerebral Palsy (CP)?

Cerebral palsy, an umbrella term for a handful of non-progressive motor conditions, is caused by damage to the developing motor control centers of the brain. The brain damage characteristic of cerebral palsy can take place during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or within roughly the first three years of a child’s life. Within the term cerebral palsy, “cerebral” refers to the cerebrum (the damaged area of the brain), and “palsy” refers to the resultant movement disorders.

Individuals with cerebral palsy experience impairments to balance, muscle tone and control, bodily movements, coordination, and posture. Some people additionally experience seizures and epilepsy, learning disabilities, speech and feeding difficulties, developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and other related conditions. Cerebral palsy is the result of irreparable brain damage, so there is currently no known cure. However, many surgeries, lifestyle adjustments, medical regimens, and therapies exists to reduce the resultant impairments caused by cerebral palsy.

Instances of Medical Malpractice that Cause Cerebral Palsy

There are a number of medical mistakes that can occur during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or post-delivery and result in birth injuries and cerebral palsy. When nurses, midwives, obstetricians, anesthesiologists, or other medical professionals make mistakes that lead to injury or harm to a pregnant woman and/or her baby, it is medical malpractice. In this section, we’ll briefly discuss a few instances of medical malpractice that can cause cerebral palsy.

  • National Medical Malpractice Awareness Month | Michigan Cerebral Palsy AttorneysFailure to address non-reassuring fetal heart tracings: During labor and delivery, medical professionals must ensure the baby’s heart rate is normal. Failure to notice problematic fetal heart tracings on a fetal heart monitor can result in fetal oxygen deprivation, brain damage, cerebral palsy, permanent disabilities, and even fetal death.
  • Failure to detect umbilical cord problems: Nuchal cords, umbilical cord prolapse, compressed cords, short cords, or true knots compromise the passage of oxygenated blood to the fetus. Medical professionals must diagnose, address, and work around these complications to avoid fetal oxygen deprivation, brain damage, and cerebral palsy.
  • Failure to properly address and treat maternal infections and health issues: Maternal infections and health issues directly compromise fetal health. Failure of medical professionals to diagnose, treat, prevent, or manage maternal infections or heath issues can result in permanent disabilities and health issues in babies. Common maternal infections include chorioamnionitis (intra-amniotic infection), bacterial vaginosis (BV), urinary tract infections (UTI), Group B Streptococcus (GBS), and villitis. Other maternal medical complications that, when mismanaged, can harm fetal health include gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean), oligohydramnios, and polyhydramnios.
  • Failure to appropriately diagnose and treat infant infections, illnesses, and health issues: Medical professionals must properly detect, diagnose, treat, prevent, and manage various neonatal health needs after delivery. Common instances of medical malpractice that occur during the neonatal period include mismanaged neonatal respiration care, failure to treat neonatal hypoglycemia, the failure to treat jaundice, poor management of fetal stroke, the failure to detect and treat neonatal seizures, and the mismanagement of neonatal meningitis and sepsis.
  • Misuse of vacuum extractors or forceps: The failure to properly use vacuum extractors or forceps during a delivery can result in head trauma, permanent brain damage, and cerebral palsy.
  • Misuse of delivery assistance drugs: The failure to properly administer the labor assistance drugs Pitocin or Cytotec can lead to uterine hyperstimulation and cause fetal brain damage, permanent disabilities, and cerebral palsy.
  • C-section mistakes: The failure of a medical professional to perform a necessary C-section in a timely manner can result in fetal brain damage, cerebral palsy, or even fetal death.
  • Failure to properly prevent or manage hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy: Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE; birth asphyxia; neonatal encephalopathy) is a dangerous neonatal brain injury caused by a shortage of oxygen to a neonate’s brain. When a medical professional fails to properly care for the mother or baby and the result is hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, it is medical malpractice. Additionally, it is considered medical malpractice when a medical professionals fails to perform hypothermia treatment on an eligible baby with HIE.
  • Failure to avoid premature birth: Nearly half of all children with cerebral palsy were born prematurely. Medical professionals are required to avoid premature delivery in accordance with standards of medical care.

There are a number of other medical mistakes that can lead to birth injuries with resultant brain damage and cerebral palsy. To learn more about how medical malpractice can cause cerebral palsy, visit our “Causes and Risk Factors” section here.

Cerebral Palsy and Medical Malpractice: Pursuing Legal Help

Medical Malpractice Attorneys for Babies | Michigan Cerebral Palsy AttorneysConfronting a child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis is devastating and overwhelming for parents. While thousands of children will be diagnosed with cerebral palsy from an instance of medical malpractice this year alone, few will receive the resources they need to receive necessary treatment, therapy, or lifestyle adjustments. As part of National Medical Malpractice Awareness Month, the birth injury attorneys at Michigan Cerebral Palsy Attorneys urge you to reach out with your questions in a free legal consultation. If you suspect medical malpractice may have been at the root of your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis, our Michigan cerebral palsy lawyers will meet with you free of charge, answer your questions, and inform you of your legal options. To learn whether your loved one’s cerebral palsy diagnosis was the result of medical malpractice, call our birth injury team toll-free at (888) 592-1857 or complete this online contact form.

  • James, John T. “A new, evidence-based estimate of patient harms associated with hospital care.” J Patient Saf 9.3 (2013): 122-128.
  • “National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association.” National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2015.
  • Woolf, Steven H., “A string of mistakes: the importance of cascade analysis in describing, counting, and preventing medical errors.” The Annals of Family Medicine 2.4 (2004).
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