Medical Malpractice as a Cause of Brain Injuries
The human brain is small in relation to the overall size of the human body, but it is big in complexity. The brain produces every thought, experience, action, memory and feeling we have as human beings. When a person’s brain is damaged, their entire life is irreparably changed. A brain injury can impair motor function, memory, intelligence, language processing, speech, vision and many other innate capabilities. It can cause paralysis, coma and even death.
How Doctor-Related Brain Injuries Occur
Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for people to suffer brain injuries at the hands of those they trust with their very lives—doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. In today’s complicated and stressful healthcare environment, doctors and others are often expected to do more with less, leading to fatigue, distraction, mistakes, and injuries.
Here are some of the common ways brain injuries occur from medical malpractice:
- During and after surgery, blood clots can travel to the brain if doctors are not extra vigilant. The risk of clots is particularly high for patients who take anticoagulant drugs, or blood thinners, which must be stopped prior to surgery.
- Improperly administered anesthesia is extremely dangerous. The risk to patients increases when their blood pressure is either too high or too low during surgery.
- Misdiagnosed brain hemorrhages can lead to injury, paralysis and death. Brain hemorrhages occur when veins or arteries in the brain break and bleed. The bleeding causes brain cells to die. Generally speaking, the longer a hemorrhage goes undiagnosed, the worse the injury to the patient.
- Inadequate stroke management can have devastating consequences. Strokes are typically the result of a blood clot blocking an artery to the brain. Recognizing and treating the stroke in a timely manner—within four to six hours after it occurs—is critical to reducing brain injury.
- Oxygen deprivation to newborns is a common malpractice injury. If a baby isn’t properly monitored during labor and delivery, the umbilical cord can become twisted, knotted, or obstructed, leading to brain injury and even death.
The Consequences of Brain Injuries
Brain injuries are life-changing events. In addition to the physical impacts, these injuries can severely damage relationships with family and other loved ones as brain-damaged patients struggle emotionally to adjust to their new reality. They often become dependent upon family members for their day-to-day lives. The financial impact can be a big one. Expensive medical treatments may be needed. Some brain damage sufferers, depending upon the severity of their condition, will need costly, around-the-clock skilled nursing care. If the person was working, their income may be reduced or eliminated as they struggle to recover. When recovery isn’t possible and a person can’t return to work, his or her future income disappears.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
An injury during medical treatment doesn’t always mean it’s the result of medical malpractice. Generally speaking, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to act in accordance with the accepted standards of care in the medical profession. Put even more simply, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to do what a reasonably careful healthcare provider would do under similar circumstances. In order to establish a case of medical malpractice, an injured person must also prove that his/her injuries are the result of the healthcare provider’s negligence.
Medical malpractice law is highly complex and varies between states. If you are concerned that either you or a loved one may have been the victim of medical malpractice, it’s a good idea to consult with a qualified and experienced medical malpractice attorney, preferably an attorney with a medical background.
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