Types of brain injuries caused by medical malpractice

When we are sick or injured we put a tremendous amount of faith in the Doctors, Nurses and medical personnel treating us. In the unfortunate event that they end up causing further harm due to negligence or insufficient skills, it can leave a whole family devastated. 

A Traumatic brain injury is a form of acquired brain injury which occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Injuries to the brain can also occur when the brain does not get enough oxygen such as during a stroke or as a result of illness.

Brain injuries caused by medical malpractice can be heartbreaking especially if there is a baby or a young child involved. No matter what the circumstances are, anything involving a brain injury caused by the negligence of a medical practitioner is nothing less than tragic. 

The different types of medical malpractice that can result in brain injuries include:

  • Surgical mistakes
  • Misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis
  • Anoxia (a lack of oxygen)
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Birth trauma that harms newborn babies
  • Tissue or blood infections, including septicemia
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Medication errors, such as wrong medicine or dosage
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Abuse (a common cause of injury in nursing homes and assisted living facilities)
  • Intubation negligence
  • Falls resulting in head trauma (often in nursing homes).

Surgical mistakes that can result in brain damage can include mistakes in anesthesia or failing to intubate the patient correctly. However, they can also be caused by the surgeon accidentally cutting a blood supply during surgery. If the patient is not supplied the correct amount of oxygen throughout and after the surgery, then this can cause a brain injury due to lack of oxygen supplied to the brain. 

Lack of oxygen causing brain injury can also be the case with birth trauma. If the baby and mother are not monitored and treated correctly during labor, then the baby can experience distress and not get enough oxygen to their brain resulting in brain damage caused by a birth injury. In this case, the baby’s heart rate will normally decrease during labor which is monitored by the fetal monitoring devices. Not all births require ongoing monitoring. However, in the case of an epidural being administered or an induction of labor, then fetal monitoring is often recommended due to a higher risk of complications. 

Failing to detect a change in a baby’s heart rate can have devastating effects including long term brain damage, blindness, deafness or Cerebral Palsy. 

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is the name for a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. It is the most common motor disability in childhood and can occur during pregnancy or birth. Symptoms include exaggerated reflexes, floppy or rigid limbs and involuntary motions. These appear by early childhood. Cerebral means having to do with the brain. Palsy means weakness or problems with using the muscles caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a person’s ability to control his or her muscles.

Birth complications that can lead to Cerebral Palsy include detachment of the placenta, uterine rupture, or problems with the umbilical cord during birth. These events can disrupt oxygen supply to the baby and result in CP.

The use of birth intervention techniques such as forceps or vacuums can also cause brain injuries to the baby if used incorrectly. 

If a tissue or blood infection is not correctly diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, this can lead to long term brain damage for the patient. Unfortunately, when Doctors are treating too many patients or not experienced with a particular ailment, then they may miss key symptoms leading to an incorrect or misdiagnosis. In a similar way with stroke patients, if the correct treatment is not administered quickly then the oxygen supply will be restricted for longer. This can result in more brain cells dying than is necessary. 

Symptoms of stroke include trouble walking, speaking and understanding, as well as paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg.

Another all too common cause of brain injuries due is abuse, usually of elderly people or disabled people who need caregivers. Blows to the head or falls which involve hitting the head can be types of elder abuse.

human brain

What are the signs Of a Brain Injury

Brain injuries have symptoms that are often readily recognizable. Be on the lookout for the following if you believe your loved one is being mistreated in care:

  • Cognitive impairment, including lack of concentration or focus
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired hearing
  • Speech difficulties
  • Loss of taste
  • Sensory loss, especially in arms and legs
  • Loss of eye movement
  • Lacerations, bruises or bumps on the head
  • Emotional and mood problems
  • Loss of bodily function, including paralysis
  • Change in personality
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Disorientation and loss of balance
  • Coma
  • Dizziness or seizures.
  • Some of the signs are immediately easy to spot, while others may be more subtle or arise weeks or months after medical treatment.  

What Should You Do If Medical Malpractice Causes A Brain Injury?

If you believe your loved one has suffered a brain injury at the hands of a doctor, nurse or hospital, it’s important to take immediate steps, including:

  1. Seek medical attention right away with a different doctor or medical facility to prevent further injury.
  2. Hire a skilled and experienced brain injury lawyer to represent you and prevent you from saying or doing things that may harm the success of a lawsuit in the future.
  3. Gather all medical paperwork, test results, X-rays, MRIs, lab results and other documentation that proves your loved one’s injuries.

What can you claim for a brain injury?

Lawsuits for brain injuries caused by medical malpractice can claim damages in the following areas:

  • Medical Costs: The cost of hospital bills, as well as the cost of lifelong care, which is necessary in many head-injury cases.
  • Pain and Suffering: Not only the physical pain and suffering, but the emotional impact of having to deal with a life-changing injury.
  • Lost Income: A brain injury can cause the individual to miss work temporarily or leave the person permanently unable to work.
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