Cerebral Palsy (CP) and Neonatal Encephalopathy (NE), both a type of brain damage, are a mother’s worst nightmare. Childbirth is supposed to be a beautiful thing, and when things go wrong in the delivery room, mothers often ask why. In their grief and fear of long term care needs, mothers often look to lawyers for the answers. Even when a child is diagnosed with CP or has brain damage, it is not always a malpractice case and knowing a few key points to look for can save a lot of time when determining merit.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) have defined four criteria that must be met to prove that Cerebral Palsy or Neonatal Encephalopathy was due to an intrapartum event:
- The first and fastest thing to look for is the umbilical cord blood gas results. If no cord blood was drawn, you can stop there, as it will be impossible to prove that the CP or NE was due to a complication of delivery.
- The baby had to be at least 34 weeks gestation at time of birth.
- The CP has to be of the quadriplegic or dyskinetic type.
- Finally, other causes must be ruled out. These causes can include trauma, infection, genetic disorders and coagulation disorders (blood clots).
The medical records are sometimes overwhelmingly voluminous on CP or NE cases, and the services of legal nurse consultants on these cases in particular are very beneficial. Where it might take an attorney several hours to find these 4 key elements , an LNC can go straight to the appropriate records and determine merit quickly and economically.