Understanding Brain Damage in Medical Malpractice Cases

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) resulted in 2.5 million emergency room visits, 282,000 hospitalizations, and 56,000 deaths in 2013 alone, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A TBI may be caused by any number of events, including medical negligence or malpractice.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other healthcare professional administers care that falls below the standard of care expected in that professional’s field. Often, the failure to meet the standard of care is due to negligence. When this failure causes harm, serious injuries, including brain damage, may result.

How Can Medical Malpractice Cause Brain Damage?

A number of medical errors may result in brain damage or a traumatic brain injury (TBI) for a patient. A few of the most common types of medical malpractice resulting in brain damage include:

  • Infections caused by improper sterilization or other techniques during surgery may cause damage to the brain.
  • Medication errors like overdose or providing the wrong medication may cause swelling of the brain, leading to injury.
  • Failure to properly diagnose or treat certain medical conditions, such as stroke, aneurysm, brain tumor, epilepsy, meningitis, encephalitis, or brain hemorrhage.
  • Errors made during surgery, including errors during brain or head surgery.
  • Anesthesia errors, which may result in lack of oxygen to the brain, causing damage.
  • Injuries during birth can cause serious brain damage.

Depending on the location of the injury and its severity, the brain damage resulting from medical negligence can have severe, life-altering effects. Nearly any function of the body may be affected, from speech, mood and memory to the ability to walk, blink, or even breathe independently.

Birth Injuries and Brain Damage

Medical errors that occur during birth account for a number of brain and nervous system injuries in infants, some of which may have lifelong effects. For example:

  • A lack of oxygen to the brain during the birthing process due to complications during the birth, such as a breech position or an entangled umbilical cord, may cause brain damage.
  • Failing to adequately monitor the baby’s heart rate, or to adequately monitor the condition of both the baby and the mother in order to provide appropriate care, may result in a lack of oxygen, which can cause brain damage.
  • Failing to diagnose or treat jaundice (a condition of the liver), which may lead to kernicterus (a type of brain damage caused by the buildup of bilirubin in the bloodstream).
  • Improper use of tools such as forceps or vacuum extractors can do serious damage to the brain, the nerves of the head and neck, or both.
  • Twisting, shaking, or dropping of the newborn may cause irreversible damage to the brain or to other structures of the body.

I Suspect I Have Brain Damage Due to Medical Malpractice. What Should I Do?

The first step is to choose New York medical malpractice attorney who can help you determine what happened and protect your legal rights. Choose a lawyer who has had experience protecting the rights of clients who have experienced brain damage due to medical negligence. Schedule a consult with the experienced malpractice attorneys at the New York Medical Malpractice today.

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.