When a traumatic brain injury occurs, paralysis to one side of the body may be the result. And if it occurs following surgery, childbirth, or as a result of a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, it is possible that medical negligence could be to blame for the resulting hemiplegia.
What Is Hemiplegia?
The loss of motor function on one side of the body is considered hemiplegia paralysis. This type of paralysis is the result of brain damage that occurs on the opposite side of the body. For instance, if the left hemisphere of the brain is damaged, a person can suffer right-side hemiplegia, which would impact the right arm and/or leg and possibly the face and torso. Although the visible signs of hemiplegia appear in these areas of the body, the cause is actually due to a traumatic brain injury, stroke, aneurysm, brain infection, tumors or cancers in the brain, or an injury during childbirth.
Hemiplegia can mean complete paralysis, resulting in the total loss of function and feeling on one side of the body, or partial paralysis, causing a significant loss of sensation and control in the affected area of the body. People with partial hemiplegia, also known as hemiparesis, may be able to control their affected limbs at times but not at other times due to limited muscle control. They may also experience intermittent pain, especially when their muscles get stuck in a contracting position. And while their symptoms may be less severe than those with complete hemiplegia, any type of hemiplegia can negatively impact someone for the rest of their life.
How Does Medical Malpractice Cause Hemiplegia?
Paralysis on one side of the body can occur from medical negligence due to the following errors:
- Childbirth error. When an obstetrician uses forceps or a vacuum extractor to help guide the baby out of the birth canal, too much pressure could be applied or it could be done incorrectly, causing a brain injury or nerve injury that could lead to paralysis.
- Anesthesia error. If an anesthesiologist uses the wrong anesthesia, too much anesthesia, intubates incorrectly, or doesn’t monitor a patient during surgery, a patient may suffer a reaction to the medication or a loss of oxygen that can lead to brain damage and paralysis.
- Surgical error. When a doctor fails to perform surgery correctly and makes an accidental cut or operates on the wrong site, or if a patient suffers a loss of oxygen during surgery, any form of paralysis may be the result.
- Diagnosis error. If a patient visits the emergency room with symptoms that could be related to a brain tumor, stroke, brain cancer, or traumatic brain injury and the medical staff didn’t take the appropriate steps or order the correct tests in a timely manner, a diagnosing error may be to blame. Failing to diagnose and treat a stroke or any of these conditions can lead to paralysis and even death.
- Post-surgery error. Following surgery, a nurse or other medical staff member may have the duty of monitoring a patient for a potential infection. When a healthcare worker fails to do this and releases a patient too soon or without the proper evaluation, an infection may occur. There are some infections such as meningitis and encephalitis that cause inflammation of the brain, which can be very serious and lead to paralysis. Even sepsis, if left untreated, can spread to the brain and cause hemiplegia.
Effects of Hemiplegia
People with hemiplegia often suffer from uncontrolled muscle spasms, chronic pain, loss of motor control, and physical body changes. Surgeries, medications, and physical therapy may be needed to help reduce muscle stiffness and improve one’s quality of life. Although there are medical devices such as splints and wheelchairs that can help improve the quality of life for someone with hemiplegia, being paralyzed on one side of the body will ultimately affect someone physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially.
If you believe you or a loved one suffered paralysis as a result of a medical error, you should speak with a lawyer who is experienced in medical malpractice law. Our law firm has the experience you are looking for and welcomes your call.