Neurological injuries resulting from medical malpractice can cause lifelong damage. There are many different types of neurological injuries, but the one thing they have in common is that they significantly affect every aspect of the victim’s life. A review published in 2001 of 150,000 malpractice claims involving neurologists found that some of the most frequently recurring issues in the claims were failure to diagnose neurological issues, lack of informed consent from the patient, inadequate documentation, and “poor doctor-patient relationships.”
What Are Neurological Injuries?
Broadly speaking, neurological injuries are any form of injury to the brain, the spine, or the nervous system. According to MU Health Care, neurological injuries are often caused by accidents involving cars or other vehicles, bicycles, athletic activities, and sudden falls. Neurological injuries have the potential to affect multiple physiological systems—blood, organs, muscles—and can require complex forms of treatment. Neurologists and neurosurgeons, the specialists who treat neurological injuries, are among the most highly trained medical professionals.
Perhaps one of the most common forms of neurological injury is the traumatic brain injury. The CDC estimates that 13.5 million people “live with a disability due to traumatic brain injury in the U.S. alone,” and that the direct and indirect costs of these injuries are $76.5 billion. CDC statistics released in 2014 suggest that in the US, there are roughly 288,000 annual hospitalizations for traumatic brain injury, “more than 20 times the number of hospitalizations for spinal cord injury.” Approximately 21% of traumatic brain injuries in children and adolescents are caused by sports and other forms of recreation, according to the CDC.
Neurological injuries resulting from medical malpractice are those that occur specifically due to the errors of medical practitioners, for instance, neurosurgeons. Errors that occur during neurosurgical care can cause brain injuries, aneurysms, adverse reactions to medication, forceps injuries, pain, loss of limb function, cerebral palsy, and even death. Such errors are rare but not unheard of. A survey of 2,579 closed malpractice claims filed between 2014 and 2018 found that “Neurosurgery was the third most common specialty to trigger medical malpractice claims, comprising 8 percent of the claims.”
What Causes Neurological Injuries?
Malpractice-related neurological injuries have a number of possible causes. Despite their training and expertise, neurologists and neurosurgeons are not immune to error or negligence. In some cases neurosurgeons fail to adequately monitor a patient, consequently missing signs of something amiss. In others, a neurosurgeon misreads the results of tests or scans, and later mis-performs a surgical procedure based on their misinterpretation of the data. In cases of poor doctor-patient relationships, the neurosurgeon might not properly listen to their patient or take into account all the information the patient provides, then perform a procedure that the patient doesn’t need and which causes neurological injury. Perhaps the doctor forgets one of the steps of a complicated neurosurgical procedure; perhaps they consume liquor while on call, and end up intoxicated during surgery. Negligence comes in many different forms.
What Can I Do If I’m A Victim of Neurological Injury?
Victims of neurological injuries resulting from medical malpractice must demonstrate that their doctor had a duty of care to them; that their doctor failed to uphold this duty of care; that their doctor caused the neurological injury; and that the injury resulted in damages to the victim. If they can prove these four elements, neurological injury victims may be able to recover the costs of medical expenses resulting from their injury. They may also be able to recover lost income if their injury forced them to take a leave of absence from their job, or rendered them permanently unable to work, consequently reducing their earning capacity.
The New York-based medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan have decades of experience holding medical professionals like neurosurgeons accountable for their negligence. Please contact our medical malpractice lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.