Canada Family Files $12M Birth Injury Lawsuit

December 10, 2014

The parents of a young girl who now lives with a severe form of cerebral palsy filed a birth injury lawsuit earlier this year in Calgary, Canada. Per reports, the family is seeking $12 million in damages.

According to the plaintiff’s complaint, the lawsuit was filed against High River Hospital, Alberta Health Services, six nurses, and five physicians. The plaintiffs, Amy and Cole Spring,allege that the medical team acted in negligence during the delivery of their infant girl Roulette, in 2012, resulting in birth injuries that led to her development of cerebral palsy.

The negligence reportedly happened to due several factors. The baby was born non-responsive and remained unconscious for several minutes, even after resuscitation efforts. Consequently, she suffered oxygen deprivation and seizures. Shortly after, she was diagnosed with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) and taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Foothills Hospital. However, since the baby went several minutes without oxygen, she was also diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy.

The plaintiffs allege that the defendants:

  • Failed to properly communicate with each other, resulting in the baby’s medical conditions
  • Failed to respond in time to fetal distress
  • Failed to meet the medical needs of both mother and infant

“Roulette has been catastrophically injured as a result of the oxygen deprivation to her brain caused by the failure of the defendants … to properly assess and treat her mother,” the lawsuit claim states. “She continues to require significant medical care.”

The plaintiffs seek  $11.625 million in compensatory damages for Roulette and $300,00 each for themselves. 

What is Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy?

Spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, also known as tetraplegic cerebral palsy, is a form of spastic cerebral palsy in which all four limbs are affected. It’s the most severe form of cerebral palsy, with symptoms that include: 

  • Lack of control in the legs and arms
  • Lack of tongue and mouth muscle control
  • Difficulties with speech
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Fluid buildup
  • Emotional problems
  • Severe body pain
  • Vision and hearing problems

As one of the most threatening types of cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia also results in exorbitant, long-term medical expenses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and infant with cerebral palsy alone may need around $1 million in medical care for a lifetime. With intellectual and emotional disabilities, the expenses can more than double.

In addition to medication, treatment for spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy generally consists of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, special education, and specialized mobility equipment. Some children may need to undergo surgery to decrease fluid buildup in the spine.

Long-Term Outlook

There is no known cure for spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, resulting in the need for permanent care for infants who develop it. However, it’s not a fatal disorder in itself, although some of the disabilities and medical conditions that arise from it can be extremely serious. For instance, children with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy  may develop hardened feces, which can lead to high blood pressure, autonomic dysreflexia, and urinary infections. These conditions can then lead to more dangerous health problems, including stroke and heart attack. 

Infants with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy will require permanent, lifelong medical care.

Sources:

  1. http://www.calgarysun.com/2014/09/04/family-seeks-12m-in-botched-birth-in-lawsuit-against-nurses-docs-high-river-hospital-and-alberta-health-services
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/data.html