Parents in Florida have been reassured by the recently approved reforms to the state’s compensation program for brain injuries at birth. Comprehensive changes to the program include an increase in the benefits paid to parents who give up working in order to care for their child. This is a particularly important reform, as experiencing a brain injury in hospital can cause serious and lifelong impairments in both children and adults, leading to significant medical expenses and monetary losses. As well as ensuring patients and their families receive appropriate compensation, proving that the injury is due to negligence can mean that common causes of brain injury such as trauma at birth or lack of oxygen during treatment can be avoided in future cases.
Acquired Brain Injury due to Trauma at Birth
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) causes over 60,000 fatalities in the US every year. In children, a TBI can be particularly distressing as it damages their maturing brain causing considerable disruption to their development. For some children, trauma to the brain can occur just before or during birth. Although the use of assistive devices such as forceps during childbirth is in decline, they are still used during some difficult deliveries and, if they are used improperly or with excessive force, they can cause a range of injuries including swelling, fractures to the skull or bleeding between the skull and outer covering of the brain, known as epidural hematoma. Although some injuries do occur naturally at birth, an experienced brain hematoma lawyer will carry out a thorough investigation of any potential malpractice suit in order to uncover evidence of errors. Any compensation received as a result of a successful claim can help to cover the cost of ongoing medical treatment and therapies, and ensure a better quality of life for any affected child.
Brain Damage Caused by Lack of Oxygen During Surgery
Another common cause of brain damage in infants is a lack of oxygen to the brain. The brain requires a constant supply of oxygen and is particularly sensitive to any reduction in supply. Without oxygen to the brain, cells begin to die within 5 minutes. When cerebral hypoxia lasts any longer it can result in coma, seizures and eventually to brain death. Every year, preventable harm affects around 400,000 hospital patients and most claims for malpractice are related to mistakes that occur during surgery. While all surgery carries some risk, there are a number of avoidable ways in which the brain can become deprived of oxygen. These include improper intubation by an anaesthetist, or allowing a patient to bleed excessively causing low blood pressure. Long-term consequences of hypoxia include a decline in brain function and neurological impairment and for children deprived of oxygen during delivery, cerebral palsy or other developmental conditions.
While potentially traumatic hospital procedures such as a complicated birth or major surgery always carry some risk, serious brain damage with long-term consequences may be caused by easily preventable errors.
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