Traumatic Brain Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice
Most people characterize medical malpractice as the omission of a necessary act, or of a slight mistake in a necessary procedure. However, despite the passive nature of many acts of medical negligence, very real trauma can result. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an example of a type of physical injury that many do not expect to happen in a medical setting, especially to adults, but it is far more common than most people realize.Birth Injuries
The most common incidence of TBI due to medical negligence occurs in babies, usually during delivery. Brain injury and damage can occur in several ways, most commonly due to fetal oxygen deprivation. If the OB-GYN is not careful, the oxygen deprivation can last long enough to cause significant brain damage. Underlying causes of oxygen deprivation can include:
- Maternal illness: Some conditions that affect the mother may have dangerous consequences to the child, including gestational diabetes and other infections;
- Placental abruption: Normally, the placenta separates from the uterine wall at delivery, but at times it can separate earlier, which lessens the oxygen flow to the fetus; and
- Compression of the umbilical cord: There are a myriad of conditions that can occur during labor and delivery that can lead to the umbilical cord becoming trapped under the baby or along the uterine wall.
All of these conditions are noticeable and usually preventable if the OB-GYN is adequately monitoring both maternal and fetal health. Failure to diagnose any of these conditions can easily be seen as a breach of the standard of care, since adequate prenatal care is seen as part of the service of managing a pregnancy. Doctors have a duty to their patients by law, and and if that duty is breached due to their conduct, they will likely be liable for medical malpractice.Adult Injuries
Malpractice-related TBIs in adults are a bit more unusual, but they do sometimes happen due to medical mistakes. Failure to diagnose is one of the more likely culprits. For example, a doctor negligently failing to diagnose a blood clot in the brain, or a skull fracture going unnoticed that later gives rise to a subdural hematoma. Another common cause is surgical error - over 4,000 occur each year in U.S. hospitals, according to a 2012 study out of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. Affirmative errors (in other words, cases where a surgeon makes a mistake) make up the bulk of the cases, but some errors originate from omissions such as failure to diagnose infection, or failure to administer a needed medication or anesthetic.
Throughout the country, however, TBIs are most commonly caused by falls. In a hospital, floor staff and medical personnel are responsible for patients’ safety, and must warn and/or protect them from foreseeable harm. If, for example, an elderly patient tries to get up and falls, the hospital may be liable. These cases are sometimes based in medical malpractice, but more often, these occur under the legal theory of premises liability, which alleges that premises were not adequately made safe for those entering or remaining upon them.Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Brain injuries, especially in newborns, can be life-changing. Costs of treatment and daily living expenses can be intimidating. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can make all the difference. The skilled San Jose brain injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. understand how overwhelming these situations can be, and will do our best to guide you through a process that can get extraordinarily complex for those trying to go it alone. Contact our office today for a free consultation. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area and the counties of Alameda, Monterey, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Benito.