According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly two million people suffer a traumatic brain injury each year. While many are injured during motor vehicle or work accidents, medical malpractice also causes brain injuries. When a trusted health care professional fails to treat a patient with the appropriate standard of care, that patient can become a victim. Brain injuries are serious and can alter one’s way of life forever.
What Is A Medical Malpractice Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injuries may be classified as ‘open’ or ‘closed,’ depending on the nature of the injury. An open injury occurs when the skull has been fractured in a fall, collision, or other incident when it hits a hard object. A closed head injury may not involve an open wound or fracture, but can be just as serious. Closed head injuries not only cause brain swelling, but can also lead to blood clots in the skull. Regardless of the type of injury, brain trauma can result in life-changing conditions like paralysis, coma, or even wrongful death.
Most medical malpractice brain injuries occur because the brain is deprived of oxygen. Anoxia and hypoxia occur when the brain does not receive the proper amount of oxygen. While hypoxia is a partial lack of oxygen, anoxia is a total lack of oxygen to the brain. In general, the longer your brain is deprived of oxygen, the more severe the resulting damage. Diminished oxygen supply can cause serious impairments in cognitive (thought) skills, as well as in physical, mental, and other functions.
Common Causes of Brain Injuries
Health care professionals owe a duty of care to patients to act in good faith and not inflict or cause additional harm or illness to those they treat. Patients trust physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other health care providers. Negligence and medical error can lead to permanent brain damage as well as inflict debilitating injuries. While every brain injury is unique, the most common causes of medical malpractice brain injuries include but are not limited to:
Anesthesia Errors can lead to a loss of oxygen in the brain when an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist fails to provide the proper dosage of anesthesia, fails to provide the correct anesthesia, or fails to monitor a patient under anesthesia during and after a procedure. Anesthesia errors can lead to permanent brain damage in patients.
Failure to Diagnose and Misdiagnosis can impact a patient’s health in many ways. If a patient is not properly examined and diagnosed, they may not receive the proper treatment for their illness or injury in a timely manner, and they also become susceptible to additional injuries. When a serious medical condition – such as an aneurysm, brain bleed, stroke, or heart attack – goes untreated, patients’ issues can escalate to irreversible injury levels that could have been prevented.
Surgical Errors strongly contribute to brain injuries and death. Surgical errors could include wrong site entry, the cutting of major arteries causing lack of oxygen and severe bleeding, as well as improper closure leading to infection in the brain, and injury to the brain by other errors and/or negligence.
Incorrect Intubation or CPR can also cause the brain to lose oxygen, leading to lasting injuries. Intubation tubes are placed in a patient’s trachea to keep airways open; however, errors in insertion can cause a patient to lose oxygen. Additionally, if CPR is not administered correctly or in time, the patient can also experience a loss of oxygen.
Birth Errors are extremely traumatic and an unfortunate number of parents and newborns experience them annually. A physician that is not properly monitoring the position and vital signs of a baby during delivery can leave newborns vulnerable to the loss of oxygen during labor. Physicians and medical professionals assisting in delivery can also cause immense harm if they mishandle a newborn during delivery or misuse items such as forceps.
Brain Injury Symptoms
When medical malpractice leads to cerebral anoxia or hypoxia, the patient and/or their family members may not be aware oxygen to the brain has been lost. Symptoms to look out for include behavioral changes, memory loss, and decreased motor coordination. A patient might also suffer from a number of long-term symptoms that vary depending on the location and extent of the injury.
Long-Term Brain Injury Symptoms Can Include:
- Change in temperament or personality
- Coordination problems or other physical impairments
- Difficulty sleeping
- Light sensitivity
- Memory loss
- Poor judgment
- Vision problems
Philadelphia Brain Injury Lawyers
The last thing a patient should ever experience when seeking medical help is a traumatic and catastrophic injury due to the negligence of their trusted provider. Victims of medical malpractice brain injuries and their families must endure the consequences of medical errors and other negligent actions. Brain injuries heavily impact not only the victim’s quality of life, but their loved ones’ as well. If you or someone you know has been a victim of medical negligence that caused a brain injury in Philadelphia, contact the trial lawyers at Lopez McHugh, LLP to discuss your case at no cost.