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What to Do If You Suspect Medical Negligence Caused Your Child’s Cerebral Palsy

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Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders affecting movement, balance, and posture. It’s typically associated with an injury to the developing brain during pregnancy, childbirth, or shortly after birth. When a parent discovers that their child’s cerebral palsy may have been caused by medical negligence, the ensuing journey can be incredibly challenging and emotionally taxing. However, having a systematic approach and understanding the necessary steps to verify your suspicions can help to secure peace of mind and justice for the child.

At McCarthy + Co, our medical negligence claims team regularly assist parents who feel that a sub-standard level of medical care during or after pregnancy led to their child sustaining a life-changing injury. In cases where the child has developed cerebral palsy, we recommend the following steps.

Thoroughly understand cerebral palsy and its causes

As a first step, it’s crucial to grasp a clear understanding of cerebral palsy and its potential causes. CP is not a single condition but an umbrella term covering a group of neurological disorders that affect body movement, balance, and posture. These disorders stem from non-progressive brain damage or malformation that occurs while the child’s brain is under development.

CP can be caused by various factors, such as low birthweight, premature birth, multiple births involving twins, triplets, or greater multiples, as well as injuries to the head during or after birth. While there are instances where medical negligence could lead to CP, it’s essential to understand that not all cases of CP are due to malpractice.

Seek a second medical opinion

If, despite understanding the multifactorial causes of CP, you still believe medical negligence could have contributed to your child’s condition, seeking a second medical opinion should be your next course of action. Consult with a paediatric neurologist, a neonatologist, or another specialist who is equipped to assess your child’s condition and medical history. They will conduct necessary tests, interpret medical data, and provide an expert perspective on the possible causes of your child’s CP.

Gather and organise medical records

Whilst seeking a second opinion, you should also begin to collect and systematically organise all relevant medical records. These should include records of prenatal care, birth, and any immediate postnatal care. This documentation will serve as crucial evidence in establishing a timeline of events and identifying potential instances of medical negligence. It could also highlight any discrepancies or omissions in your child’s care.

Consult with a medical negligence solicitor

Assuming that after the second medical opinion, you still have concerns about potential negligence, it would be prudent to consult with a solicitor who specialises in medical malpractice. If you feel you are already at this stage, you can take a look at the information our legal team have put together in the birth injury section of our website, including our extensive birth injury FAQs. Our legal team will be very happy to discuss any questions you might have in relation to your case, explain your rights and responsibilities, and help you understand whether your case is viable.

Our team will also review all your gathered information and medical records and may suggest bringing on board other expert witnesses to help you build enough evidence to bring your case.

Seek an independent medical examination

It most cases we are likely to advise that you need to arrange for an independent medical examination (IME) of your child. A neutral, third-party medical expert typically conducts this exam. The goal of the IME is to identify potential signs of medical negligence and establish a clear causative link between the alleged negligence and your child’s cerebral palsy. The IME can provide substantial, unbiased evidence for your case, strengthening your position.

File medical negligence proceedings

In cases where there is enough evidence pointing to medical negligence, our team will help you to bring proceedings against the concerned healthcare providers. The process involves drafting and filing a claim that outlines the alleged negligence, how it led to your child’s condition, and the impact it has had on your child’s life. This is a pivotal first legal step towards securing compensation for your child, helping to set the stage for negotiations.

Contact our medical negligence team for further assistance

If you are currently in the very difficult scenario of suspecting medical negligence as a factor in your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis, our legal team provide an empathetic and expert service to help you get your claim underway. Call us on 1800 390 555 and an experienced member of staff will discuss your situation and potential next steps. You can also email info@mccarthy.ie and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is a seasoned solicitor with almost 20 years of experience, specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims, focusing particularly on high-value compensation cases. His extensive litigation experience spans Circuit Court, High Court and Supreme Court levels. John's practice involves a diverse range of cases, from personal injury and wrongful death to property damage, defective products, professional negligence and judicial reviews.

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