Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) are a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Every year, between 1.5 and two million Americans suffer a TBI. Many are severe – also noted by the CDC, which says that TBIs are the third-highest contributors to all injury-related deaths in the U.S.
Many begin as concussions. They generally happen in one of two ways: (1) a violent shaking which causes a “whiplash” injury where the brain bumps against the inside of the hard skull; or (2) a serious blow to the head, commonly referred to as blunt-force trauma. Bullet wounds are the most gruesome trauma-related brain injuries. But most TBIs are attributed to sports injuries (chronic traumatic encephalopathy and concussions), slips and falls, vehicle and construction accidents, or savage assaults.
It is also not unusual for those who suffer a brain injury to experience periods of unconsciousness after suffering a TBI – especially if it is from blunt force trauma. A closed brain injury can also produce unconsciousness hours or days after the injury, as the cranium slowly fills up with blood and puts severe pressure on the brain.
Many TBIs are caused by negligent or willful acts. Others become critical after being misdiagnosed by an emergency room doctor or other medical professional, bringing medical malpractice into the picture.
Oxygen Starvation – Another Cause of Permanent Brain Injuries
Another danger to brain health is a lack of oxygen for as little as a minute or two – known as hypoxia. Complete lack of oxygen for longer periods of time that produces death is called anoxia.
Hypoxia can occur when an anesthesiologist improperly monitors the oxygen level of the patient during a routine surgical procedure or when the patient is in post-surgical recovery. Hypoxia produces serious injuries, including catastrophic brain damage and even sudden death if the brain goes without oxygen longer than a few minutes.
Anesthesia mistakes can also be made by hospital support staff members, due to poor communication or record keeping. Thus, a medical malpractice claim that brain damage resulted from improper administration of anesthesia may name the anesthesiologist as well as others in the “treatment” chain.
Birth-Related Brain Injuries are Tragic for a Baby, and the Parents
One of the most common types of brain injuries occurs at or near the time of a baby’s birth. Infant hypoxia occurs when a baby’s brain becomes starved of oxygen, usually – but not always – as it travels through the birth canal immediately before delivery. The end result can be Cerebral Palsy (CP) or another brain disability that permanently threatens a child’s future and, sometimes, the baby’s very life.
But the lungs do not fully develop until shortly before birth (normally 34 weeks). If the baby is premature, the transfer of oxygenation capacity to underdeveloped lungs becomes very difficult. If either condition is not quickly addressed at the time of birth, the child can develop serious mental and physical disabilities and even moderate to severe CP. A seasoned birth injury lawyer with a knowledgeable team of medical investigators can determine whether the malpractice occurred because of improper prenatal diagnosis by the mother’s OB-GYN or at the time of delivery by the obstetrician or a member of the birthing team.
With so Many Possibilities, an Experienced Injury Attorney Must Determine the Actual Cause of Brain Injury
There are other causes of serious brain injuries which could result in a medical malpractice claim, such as:
- Improper use of Pitocin (a labor-inducing drug) or improper prescription of a variety of drugs during a mother’s pregnancy
- Neglecting to perform specialized tests during pregnancy or in an emergency room
- Failure to properly diagnose brain injuries
- Neglecting to refer high-risk patients to doctors who specialize in brain injuries.
If you or a member of your family has experienced brain damage from one of these incidents, contact the Houston brain injury attorneys at Terry Bryant for a FREE initial consultation. You can call us at (800) 444-5000 at any time of day. We look forward to doing everything we can to try to help you.