How Malpractice Causes Cerebral Palsy

Ava Lawson | June 11th, 2013 | Posted in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit News

Medical Malpractice LawyerA diagnosis that no mother wants to receive, cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that often results in permanent disability for the child. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in every 303 children will be diagnosed with this condition, often called CP.  The medical expenses associated with cerebral palsy are astounding – often reaching into the millions of dollars over the course of a lifetime. Between 30 to 50 percent of children with CP also suffer seizures and have some sort of cognitive impairment.  A child with cerebral palsy birth injuries may also have speech, hearing, and learning disabilities, and require a team of specialists to overcome these challenges for the remainder of their lives.

Liability for cerebral palsy birth injuries may fall on hospitals, nurses, doctors or midwives who failed to provide an established standard of care – before, during and after the child’s birth. Because  the costs of caring for a child with cerebral palsy can reach millions of dollars, if medical negligence is responsible for the condition, the child and his or her family are entitled to compensation for the staggering medical costs they will incur over the child’s lifetime.

Medical mistakes that may cause cerebral palsy

While there are many factors that can cause cerebral palsy, all too often medical malpractice in the delivery room is to blame. The following are just some examples of medical mistakes, negligent actions and inactions that can cause damage to the developing brain, leading to cerebral palsy.

  • Failure to perform a Cesarean section,  leading to fetal hypoxia
  • Inadequate fetal heart rate monitoring
  • Failure to respond to signs of fetal distress based on variations in fetal heart rate
  • Failure to recognize and treat seizures following delivery
  • Failure to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord
  • Excessive use of vacuum extraction or improper use of forceps
  • Failure to plan a C-section in high risk pregnancies
  • Failure to respond to the mother’s conditions, such as high blood pressure or toxemia
  • Failure to diagnose and treat jaundice
  • Failure to treat neonate fevers
  • Failure to diagnose and treat meningitis
  • Improper use of Pitocin during delivery 

Compensation for cerebral palsy birth injuries

In one notable birth injury case, the child suffered severe respiratory distress and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which was blamed on contraindicated Pitocin administered during labor. The attending obstetrician ordered Pitocin when dilation was complete and the fetal head had not yet presented. During a one-hour period when the mother received Pitocin, the fetal heart rate was not regularly monitored. The family sued the hospital, alleging medical malpractice, and was awarded $7.5 million by a jury for the child’s needless birth injuries.

The plaintiffs charged the anesthesiologist with inadequate monitoring of fetal effects of Pitocin and the obstetrician with inadequate resuscitation measures.

Speak with a medical malpractice lawyer

If your child’s cerebral palsy birth injuries are a direct result of medical negligence, your family may be eligible to pursue monetary damages through litigation. From a financial standpoint, it is recommended that your family seek a legal case review from a qualified medical malpractice lawyer who can analyze the status of your claim and determine if you have grounds for filing a birth injury lawsuit.

A favorable jury verdict or pre-trial settlement can help offset the costs you will face over the coming years. To learn more about your options for legal recourse, contact the law offices of Balkin & Eisbrouch for a free consultation.


  1. WebMD, Understanding Cerebral Palsy -- the Basics, http://www.webmd.com/brain/understanding-cerebral-palsy-basic-information

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cerebral Palsy (CP), http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/index.html

  3. Medical News Today, What Is Cerebral Palsy? What Causes Cerebral Palsy? http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/152712.php