Renowned medical physician Dr. Bruce Fagel recently spoke at the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel about the connection between children’s developmental disabilities and medical malpractice. He explained that while natural causes are often responsible for developmental delays in children, some cases of developmental disability can be traced back to medical negligence by a doctor, nurse, or the hospital itself.
A developmental disability, also called an intellectual disability or developmental delay, is a term used within the medical community to refer to an individual with significantly impaired cognitive functioning. Dr. Fagel explains that children who are developmentally disabled are much slower to reach certain developmental milestones– such as walking, talking, speaking, thinking, and self-help skills– than other children their age. As a result, they face much greater difficulty in mastering cognitive and social skills.
A number of medical factors can be responsible for developmental disabilities in children. “A lack of oxygen to the brain before, during, or after birth, trauma, certain infections, premature delivery, or toxicity,” can all lead to developmental delays, according to Fagel. These types of birth injuries may be avoided if the doctor recognizes them and takes immediate steps to correct the problem.
Additionally, medical malpractice can occur if the doctor improperly uses a vacuum or forceps to remove the baby from the birth canal during delivery, which can cause traumatic brain injuries to the child. Outright negligence on the part of medical staff can also lead to medical malpractice. “If the doctor fails to notice a significant reduction with the baby’s heart rate or other factors that may cause a lack of adequate supply of oxygen to the infant’s brain, this can lead to brain damage, including developmental disabilities or cerebral palsy,” said Dr. Fagel.
In some cases, developmental delays are mild enough where they may not become apparent until the child begins school. However, in cases of severe developmental delay, the signs and symptoms will likely become apparent at a very young age.
If your young child has received a diagnosis of a developmental disability and medical malpractice is suspected to be the cause, it is recommended that you seek legal help. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will be able to examine medical records for signs of medical negligence in order to help determine if medical malpractice played a role in your child’s developmental disability. You may be able to receive compensation for the negligent treatment that your child received.
Source: Yahoo News, Developmental Disabilities in Children and the Connection with Medical Malpractice, July, 31, 2012.