Did You or a Loved One Suffer Brain Injury Due to Medical Error?

The large amount of faith we put in our healthcare providers makes medical malpractice even more frightening. Unfortunately, some doctors, nurses, and medical staff do commit serious errors in their patient care.

When a healthcare provider is negligent, one of the most serious risks is anoxic brain injury, or problems with the brain that result from a lack of oxygen. Even a few minutes of oxygen deprivation can have lifelong consequences, including seizures, coma, or brain cell death.

Anoxic brain injury can be caused by a variety of healthcare mistakes, including surgical errors, tracheal compression, and improper medication. If you or a loved one has suffered from preventable brain injury due to medical error, your healthcare provider deserves to be held accountable.

Types of Brain Injuries

Brain injuries that can be caused by medical malpractice may include:

  • Cerebral palsy,
  • Hydrocephalus,
  • Seizures,
  • Stroke,
  • Motor disorders, and
  • Intellectual or developmental disabilities.

These disorders can be very severe and very expensive to treat. You should not be burdened alone with the cost of healthcare if that disorder is due to an error by the healthcare provider.

Another common type of head injury experienced by accident victims is traumatic brain injury, or TBI. Victims typically sustain TBIs in motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents, commercial truck accidents, and other types of personal injury accidents.

Although a financial settlement cannot make up for the heartache of preventable brain damage, it can help cover the costs of future treatment. An experienced New Jersey brain injury attorney can help you figure out whether you might be a candidate for such a settlement.

Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

First Steps If You Suspect Brain Injury

Few doctors will come out and admit that something went wrong in the operating room. Instead, patients get sent home and only months later do they recognize that things are not normal. When a patient suffers a serious brain injury, it might be family members or friends who first notice confusion, impaired memory, and speech problems.

If you suspect something is wrong, contact another doctor who can take a look at you or your loved one. This doctor might be able to diagnose an anoxic brain injury right off or need to perform additional tests before settling on a diagnosis.

Also, remember to write down the symptoms that seem relevant. This record can help establish the severity of the injury and when it started.

Symptoms of Anoxic Brain Injuries

Two types of brain injuries can result from a lack of oxygen to the brain. Anoxic brain damage results from the brain not receiving any oxygen at all. Hypoxic brain injuries occur when the brain receives an inadequate supply of oxygen.

In some cases, there will be a loss of consciousness, or the patient may slip into a coma. With a severe brain injury, the patient may remain in a vegetative state.

Even when someone has regained full consciousness, the list of potential symptoms is lengthy. The symptoms of an anoxic brain injury are similar to those of a traumatic brain injury.

Recognizing these symptoms is important so you can get treatment for yourself or your loved one and determine the cause. 

Anoxic brain injuries can cause both cognitive symptoms and physical deficits. Symptoms include:

  • Headaches,
  • Confusion and forgetfulness,
  • Vision problems,
  • Personality changes,
  • Depression and mood swings,
  • Problems with communication,
  • Difficulty forming sentences,
  • Poor concentration,
  • Acting inappropriately,
  • Difficulty speaking and swallowing,
  • Motor impairments,
  • Limited attention span,
  • Disrupted sleep patterns,
  • Difficulty with balance, and
  • Seizures.

In some cases, hallucinations and delusions are present. You may notice that the person has a reduced threshold for frustration and is more easily agitated by things.

Once you recognize any of these symptoms, seek the opinion of a medical specialist. It’s better to err on the side of caution rather than mistakenly assume that there is nothing wrong.

What Is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the term used to describe severe brain dysfunction that results from an outside force, such as a severe jolt or blow to the head.  According to Columbia University’s Department of Neurology, traumatic brain injuries are one of the most common causes of disability and death in the United States. The rate of death—both short- and long-term—is especially high, as compared to other types of injuries that accident victims typically sustain.

Brain injuries can be closed (no break in the skull) or open (such as a penetrating wound). After an injury accident, the primary effects of a TBI may become instantly apparent. Symptoms, which can be similar to those of a concussion, include blurry vision, headache, and confusion. For many accident victims, TBI can present with a variety of severe physical, mental, and/or emotional symptoms, including:

  • Amnesia,
  • Aphasia (inability to form words),
  • Inability to form new memories,
  • Inability to understand language,
  • Inhibited comprehension,
  • Abnormal or atypical social responses,
  • Aggression,
  • Impulsivity,
  • Anger,
  • Anxiety,
  • Chronic fatigue,
  • Diminished sensory abilities, and
  • Seizures.

It is important to note that this is only a partial list of potential TBI symptoms and complications. Many victims become comatose or develop severe epilepsy. Secondary symptoms can present slowly over time, as damaged brain cells, blood vessels, nerves, and other tissues undergo trauma-related changes. Neurologists assess the severity of the injury based on the victim’s ability to respond to stimulus, their cognitive and physical function, and their ability to handle day-to-day activities.

According to the Brain Injury Association of America, traumatic brain injuries typically require a high level of expert medical treatment and care. Victims may require a variety of specialized services to treat their condition as well as comprehensive disease management plans.

Many TBI victims require this level of support for the duration of their lives. This often means that they cannot work, enjoy the activities they previously engaged in, or even handle their own daily care needs. Depending on the victim’s level of disability, rehabilitation may be possible. For others, however, no treatment can ever restore what was lost when they sustained their brain injury.

Ultimately, TBI victims may require assistance with self-care in addition to ongoing medical treatment and pain management. Victims may require live-in care, or they may have to be relocated to a residential care facility. If the victim can benefit from rehab, they may need specialized assistance with mobility, communication, work-related skills, socialization, and cognition.

The cost for treating TBIs can be astronomical. If the victim requires a lifetime of treatment and care, the costs can range well into the millions of dollars over time. If the victim cannot return to work or normal function, he or she will need financial support as well as emotional support from family and physical assistance from caregivers.

Pursuing legal action may be a head injury victim’s best hope for getting the treatment and care they need. A traumatic brain injury attorney understands the unique needs of TBI victims and their families. If you or a loved one sustained a severe head or brain injury in an accident you didn’t cause, a New Jersey brain injury lawyer from O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble can help.

What to Do After Suffering a Brain Injury

Before meeting with an attorney to review your legal options, you should pull together relevant documents and information:

  • The names of all doctors who have treated your loved one recently, as well as the dates of appointments;
  • Any medical records or test results that you have;
  • Copies of medical bills, even if your insurance paid for the care; and
  • A list of current difficulties you or your loved one is experiencing.

An attorney will find this information helpful. He or she might need to perform a preliminary investigation, and this information can help get that started.

Treatment Options for Brain Injuries

The course of treatment for an anoxic brain injury will vary based on individual circumstances. Potential treatment options can include:

  • Meeting with a speech-language pathologist for therapy;
  • Physical therapy sessions to improve mobility;
  • Mental health counseling and/or group support sessions;
  • Exercise support and nutritional education counseling; and
  • Family support counseling.

There is no easy road to recovery with a brain injury. Even with two similar injuries, each person will experience a different treatment and recovery path. This is one reason why contacting a New Jersey brain injury attorney early on is so important.

You should meet with an attorney when you suspect there is a problem rather than wait months to see if additional symptoms develop. Getting treatment right away is paramount to the recovery process. 

Prognosis for Brain Injury Victims

Anoxic brain injuries are the most severe. You cannot recover dead brain cells. Once they are gone, they are considered dead. Cells start rapidly dying after only a few minutes without oxygen, which is why death can occur quickly in the most severe cases.

There is no guarantee of a full recovery, even with a minor brain injury. It’s hard to predict how well someone will recover over time. Every case is unique. Someone with mild injuries may make a full recovery, while another person with a similar injury may not recover at all.

In some cases, proper treatment may be a viable solution to learning how to cope and live with the effects of a brain injury. Support from the right brain injury specialists and family members can go a long way in helping someone adapt to a new way of life.

Even when someone can make a full recovery, it doesn’t happen overnight. Treatment may be extensive and, undoubtedly, expensive. When medical malpractice is to blame for the brain injury, retaining the right New Jersey brain injury law firm is crucial. 

Finding a Brain Injury Attorney

Not all lawyers are prepared to handle brain injury cases, which are unique types of lawsuits. Instead, you would benefit by meeting with someone who has helped many clients with brain injuries already, since they will understand the ins and outs of these types of medical malpractice suits.

Most attorneys offer an initial consultation, where you can meet to ask a lawyer about their experience and legal philosophy. The lawyer will also listen to you explain your case and devise a strategy for uncovering what exactly happened.

At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC, we offer a free consultation to clients, so there is no risk to meeting with us.

Investigating a Brain Injury Claim

As your attorneys, we can find information that might be hard for you to uncover. For example, we might interview people who were in the operating or emergency room with you to find out what exactly happened. We can also request full copies of all relevant medical records and test results.

Central to getting at the truth is having an expert witness review your medical records and what treatment the doctor ordered. This expert is usually a practicing or former doctor who can review the evidence and identify whether the doctor or another medical professional made a mistake that contributed to your brain injury. Expert testimony like this is essential for bringing a successful brain injury claim, and we have worked with many qualified experts over the years.

Contact Us Today

O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, LLC, is a leading brain injury law firm in New Jersey. One of our medical malpractice attorneys will be happy to meet with you to discuss your case. Our team has many years of experience, and we can file a lawsuit in the correct court for maximum compensation.

Discuss Your Case with Our Brain Damage Attorneys Today

At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, we believe that healthcare providers whose negligence causes brain damage should be held accountable. Our experienced attorneys will help you explore your options, possibly including the negotiation of a financial settlement. It is important to contact an attorney early to ensure the best possible outcome. To discuss infant brain damage, medical malpractice, and potential negotiations, Contact us online or call at (908) 928-9200 or 1-800-586-5817.