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Three Families in Oregon File Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits

mother holding baby's footThree families in Oregon who claim that their children suffered serious birth injuries as a result of a mishandled delivery have each filed a cerebral palsy lawsuit against Silverton Hospital. In each case, the infants in question have serious and irreversible brain damage and cerebral palsy.

In one family’s account, a mother giving birth to her first child was having difficulty delivering the 10-pound baby and was given drugs to speed up the delivery. After hours of additional labor, doctors finally performed a cesarean section. The child was born lifeless; he was eventually revived, but suffered irreparable damage, including insufficiently developed muscles in his left arm and leg, speech problems, and behavior issues. The other two families describe similar scenarios and outcomes for their own children. The hospital has denied the allegations of malpractice in court documents.

Plaintiff facing lifetime of cerebral palsy treatment

The family anticipates that their child will face a lifetime of leg braces, therapy, and surgery ahead and that the injury inflicted could have been avoided had he been revived sooner. Treating a child with serious brain injuries is an extremely expensive undertaking. For some, procuring the best possible therapy and treatment is only possible with compensation received in a successful birth injury lawsuit.

Legal and medical experts note, however, that proving medical malpractice in such a case can be difficult. For instance, Dr. Peter Blasco (who is an expert on cerebral palsy, but not connected to the legal cases in question) notes that only a small number of cerebral palsy cases concern babies who were otherwise healthy and full term but who acquired their condition as a direct result of some major misstep that took place during the delivery itself. There can be a wide range of uncertainty as to the actual cause of the damage.  However, Dr. Blasco also notes that having three cerebral palsy cases at one hospital in two years – and two of them associated with one doctor – does raise “a red flag.” Regardless, the facts of the instant case may or may not be sufficient to prove medical negligence.

Choice of hospital could make a difference

Parents involved in these cases urge new parents to come to the delivery room with a signed birth plan and to choose the hospital where they will deliver their baby with care. A facility with neonatal intensive care unit may be preferable for some. The father of one child offered that it would be particularly useful to know what types of medical equipment is available in case of emergency.

The hospital at the center of the three birth injury lawsuits, Silverton Hospital, was named one of the top facilities in Oregon in patient surveys for Consumer Reports. However, in 2013, Silverton Hospital was among the most hospitals to receive the most penalties from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. The causes were low patient satisfaction and high death rates. Both sets of statistics will most likely be weighed among jurors when the matter is left up to their critical choice.

  1. KGW, Silverton Hosp. sued over cerebral palsy births

  2. New York Times, Cerebral Palsy