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Common Causes of Paralysis as a Result of Medical Malpractice

Paralysis is an extremely serious medical condition where damage to the spinal cord or brain results in the loss of motor function and feeling below the point of injury. Paralysis can be temporary or permanent. No one should ever suffer from paralysis due to the negligence of a medical professional. Unfortunately, many doctors and surgeons fall below the required standards of patient care – putting some patients at risk of permanent paralysis due to medical malpractice.

Surgical Errors

Every surgical procedure comes with risks. If a surgery comes with the risk of spinal cord damage or paralysis, the patient should be fully informed and aware of this risk and consent to it prior to the operation. Lack of informed consent to a dangerous procedure can give the victim grounds to file a medical malpractice claim in Philadelphia if the operation results in paralysis and the patient would not have undergone the procedure had he or she known of this risk.

Some surgeries, such as back, neck and brain surgeries, have an increased risk of paralysis. However, many patients are paralyzed during surgeries not because of an unavoidable issue but because of the surgeon’s malpractice, or the failure to use proper care. Many different surgical errors – even just one wrong move – can severely injure a nerve and result in lifelong paralysis. If a reasonable and prudent surgeon would have prevented the surgical error, the paralyzed victim may have the right to file a malpractice lawsuit.


Many different medical conditions can cause paralysis, such as brain injuries, a stroke, a tumor on the spine and meningitis. Failing to diagnose these injuries and illnesses in a timely manner increases a patient’s risk of paralysis due to the health condition. The delayed diagnosis of a spinal cord injury, for example, could result in a patient failing to receive the treatment and care that he or she needs to prevent further injury and paralysis.

It is a doctor’s duty to use the correct standards of care when making a diagnosis, such as ordering the right medical tests, properly interpreting the test results and coming to the most logical conclusion based on the evidence. If a reasonable and prudent doctor would have made a correct diagnosis sooner, the negligent physician can be held liable for a failure to diagnose, delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis that results in paralysis.

Birth Injuries

Sadly, medical malpractice can result in paralysis in an infant during childbirth. A baby’s body is delicate and susceptible to serious injuries before, during and shortly after birth. When a presiding physician or obstetrician uses unnecessary force or makes a mistake during labor and delivery, it can injure the infant’s back, neck, spine, brain or nerves in a way that causes paralysis. 

Philadelphia birth injuries such as the baby’s head or neck being twisted or yanked, spinal cord fractures, nerve damage from the improper use of birth-assistive tools, or the failure to notice signs of fetal distress can all result in a serious injury such as paralysis. Sometimes, paralysis is not permanent, such as most cases of infant facial paralysis from nerve damage during childbirth. More severe injuries, however, can cause permanent paralysis in a newborn.

Compensation for Paralysis Caused by Medical Malpractice

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with paraplegia, quadriplegia or another form of paralysis in Philadelphia and you suspect that medical malpractice is to blame, contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss a potential lawsuit. If there is evidence that your physician, surgeon or another health care provider failed to meet the proper standards of care, this could entitle you to financial compensation if it directly caused your paralysis. A medical malpractice lawyer in Philadelphia at Youman & Caputo will help you determine if you have grounds for a claim during a free consultation.