Can Cerebral Palsy Be Due To Medical Negligence?

Cerebral palsy can be defined as a term used to describe neurological disorders which hinder muscle coordination and body movement. There are many factors that can be traced back to the causes of cerebral palsy, but in the scenarios of medical malpractice and birth injuries, we can pinpoint the causes to one common source – insufficient amounts of oxygen reaching the brain of an infant during birth or labour.

Whether it is caused by medical negligence or not, you find that most of the children who suffer from cerebral palsy get born with this condition, although it’s likely that the diagnosis will be made a few years later. It is important to note that it is a health condition that’s non-progressive.

Early Indications of Cerebral Palsy

From the general perspective, parents could be aware of the signs of their babies suffering from brain injuries majorly because they need intensive medical attention during their new-born period. The assistance that they require revolves around mainly feeding and breathing, but there are other indications of cerebral palsy occurring.

Cerebral Palsy, during its milder forms, often appears to be a developmental delay. On the opposite side of things, the severe forms are characterised by the affected children having difficulty in swallowing, eating, proper maintenance of body posture and holding their heads erect.

For a proper diagnosis to be made, the doctors in charge of the management of the affected children should check for motor skills and reflexes, in addition to taking a look at the babies’ and mothers’ medical histories. They should also be keen on scrutinizing the birth records so as to find out whether there were any signs of the affected babies having oxygen deprivation during birth. The records of the fetal heart monitor are also a vital element that should be reviewed.

If Cerebral Palsy has been suspected, there are tests that the doctors can run in order to find out the disorder’s specific causes in that particular scenario. Scans of the Computed Tomography (CT) type, Magnetic Resonance Imaging tests and Ultrasonography are vital to making the correct diagnosis. This is due to their role in the creation of anatomically vivid pictures of the child’s brain as well as in the determination of the time that the baby was subjected to oxygen deprivation and also if the deficiency of oxygen is the Cerebral Palsy’s cause.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

There are three common forms of Cerebral Palsy:

  1. Spastic Cerebral Palsy: This is a type of Cerebral Palsy that accounts for approximately 80% of all cases. It is majorly characterized by difficulty in movements and stiffness due to the tightness of a single muscle or multiple muscle groups. The patients that suffer from this form of Cerebral Palsy normally have a difficult time in holding and releasing objects, as well as when moving into different positions.
  2. Athetoid Cerebral Palsy: This corresponds to around 10% of cases and is characterized by lowered muscle tone, slurred speech, involuntary movements and difficulty in swallowing.
  3. Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: It also accounts for approximately 10% of cases of cerebral palsy. Its commonest symptoms include distorted balance, problems in the perception of depth, difficulty in coordinating muscle movements and tremors.

Can Cerebral Palsy Be Due To Medical Negligence?

Having said all the above, the question of whether medical malpractices or medical negligence could be at the core of some cerebral palsy cases arises. We should start off by first laying all the facts on the table. Most of the children or people who have this condition have most likely been with it ever since they were born. In addition to this, more likely than not, the condition was brought about deprivation of oxygen to the affected person’s brain, birth trauma or premature delivery. It is important to note that the above reasons behind cerebral palsy occurring could well be due to medical negligence and mistakes during a child’s delivery.

However, you should bear in mind that a child being born with this condition could indicate medical negligence, but it does not automatically point in the direction of this actually happening. In light of this, we see that medical negligence is one of the factors that contribute to the development of cerebral palsy.

Below are some of the most common aspects of medical malpractice that leave a child with this condition:

  • Failure of proper detection or treatment of infections such as meningitis in a mother during her pregnancy term.
  • Inappropriate monitoring of the foetal heart rate before and during the actual labour process and also during birth.
  • Failure to successfully detect and deal with an umbilical cord that has prolapsed.
  • Delaying in the performing of an emergency caesarean section.
  • Negligence coupled with unprofessional mistakes such as using of instruments such as forceps and vacuums during delivery.
  • Failure of planning and scheduling caesarean section procedures to mothers that have babies that cannot safely pass via the birth canal.

Getting Legal Advice on Cerebral Palsy

In the event that the origin of the cerebral palsy is from medical negligence or malpractice, the affected people have the right of acquiring legal advice on the matter. With legal counsel at hand, the victims of medical negligence are better placed to gaining medical negligence compensation that will assist them in overcoming the difficulties that are tagged along with this disorder. You can also do a rough calculation to view the medical negligence compensation amounts and some victims can get millions of pounds.

The hospital at large, the doctor-in-charge, or even the attending obstetrician are all liable to being held accountable to such an occurrence. The responsibility of the hospital can stem from its own malpractice or negligence under a legal theory that states “respondeat superior” which is Latin for the phrase “Let the master answer”. This interprets that the hospital is held responsible for its employees’ negligent behaviour as long as the involved employees were acting within their employment’s scope.

Due to this, your legal team will help you come up with a medical negligence lawsuit for the Cerebral Palsy condition and it will constitute of both the hospital and doctors involved as the defendants. Lawsuits directed at birth injuries like cerebral palsy not only serve to hold the hospital or doctor responsible for what has occurred, but it also serves to help in the improvement of the quality of attention and care for any other baby. It is also vital for you to prioritise legal teams that have a no win no fee basis. This will ensure that the only time you are entitled to making payments of legal fees is after you have received compensation. You can also find out what is a No Win No Fee solicitors and how a conditional fee agreement works.

Cerebral Palsy Charity Related Example

In the U.K., there are a number of charity organisations that have been established to help in the provision of services that improve the welfare of children with Cerebral Palsy. One of the most popular organisations that helps such children is known as “Pace”. It is a charity centred on families and provides education specially tailored for children that have sensory and motor disorders, including cerebral palsy.

A good example of some of the children that are benefiting from this charity is one six and a half-year-old boy by the name Henry. He has been in this charity’s educational program ever since he was half a year old. Despite having cerebral palsy that has affected his legs and arms, his talking abilities and trunk control, he has benefited a lot from schooling at Pace. He is successfully getting the hang of learning how to operate powered wheelchairs and also communicating via the use of computers that have an eye-gaze type of technology as well as pod-books.

This is just but one of the many examples of the hope that lies in children who are being properly managed for cerebral palsy and the extent to which charity organisations have been of assistance in addressing the condition.


We have seen some of the types of cerebral palsy, the indications of cerebral palsy and some of the medical negligence scenarios that could lead to all the above. Legal advice is important if indeed the cause of the condition is due to malpractice and negligence by the medical personnel involved and this article has highlighted in detail the importance of all these aspects of cerebral palsy.