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Big insurance companies profit underpaying victims of personal injuries. Our team of attorneys helps correct this.

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Founding Partner - Lawscape
Lawscape

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Failure to Diagnose Hydrocephalus

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Hydrocephalus is a condition caused by an interference with the circulation and absorption of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a fluid that is produced by special tissues in the brain. CSF helps to protect delicate tissues in the brain and spinal cord by acting as a “shock absorber.”

Hydrocephalus is characterized by enlargement of the ventricles, fluid-containing spaces that are normally present in the brain, as being one of three types:

  • Congenital Hydrocephalus
  • Acquired Hydrocephalus
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

Diagnosis and treatment of hydrocephalus is usually dictated by the type of hydrocephalus and the presence or absence of related conditions that are known to be associated with the disease.

  • Congenital Hydrocephalus

“Congenital” means any condition that is present before birth and almost always implies a genetic origin of an abnormality. Congenital hydrocephalus is therefore hydrocephalus that is present before birth.

Congenital hydrocephalus is usually detected on a routine prenatal ultrasound examination. If this is the case, the expectant mother should be referred to a perinatology specialist for a comprehensive workup as other pathology is frequently encountered in association with congenital hydrocephalus.

  • Acquired Hydrocephalus

Acquired hydrocephalus is the result of some condition that is acquired in the postnatal period and is commonly seen in premature infants that have experienced bleeding into the brain, a common event in this group of infants. The presence of bleeding / development of hydrocephalus can be monitored by neonatal brain ultrasound and Computed Tomography (CT) scans.

Treatment of acquired hydrocephalus is by prompt referral to a pediatric neurosurgeon, who will insert a shunt into the brain to drain the excess fluid. The infant is then monitored on a long term basis by the surgeon and a pediatric neurologist.

  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus

In Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) the interference with the drainage and re-absorption of CSF occurs gradually over time and the condition is usually seen in those over 60 years of age. The symptoms of NPH develop slowly and may be dismissed by the patient as being part of the normal aging process. These symptoms may include:

  • difficulty speaking and “finding the right words”
  • difficulty solving problems that require mathematics or logical reasoning
  • problems with walking or balance
  • inability to control bladder or (rarer) bowel function

The symptoms of NPH can be similar to those seen in conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. These conditions can be excluded if CT and / or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans reveal dilated ventricles within the brain and the absence of changes that are usually seen with other conditions.

Once a diagnosis of NPH is established, treatment involves the insertion of a shunt similar to those used to treat childhood hydrocephalus. Shunting will usually halt the progression of symptoms in NPH but cannot reverse the changes that have already occurred in the brain tissue.

Legal Options in Failure to Diagnose Hydrocephalus

The type and amounts of damages that may be awarded for failure to diagnose hydrocephalus tend to be higher than in other malpractice cases because of the level of care that hydrocephalus patients will require over a lifetime.

In the case of infants that are born with anything other than mild cases of hydrocephalus, failure to diagnose that condition is usually seen as malpractice because of the ease of detecting the condition using diagnostic tests that are available at any hospital. Furthermore, the failure to transfer premature or critically ill infants to hospitals having special care units is very difficult to defend.

It is also worth noting that in cases of infants born with severe abnormalities the New York courts have allowed lawsuits for “wrongful birth,” in which the parents of infants born with hydrocephalus have alleged that the failure to detect that condition, and its associated malformations, deprived them of the option to terminate the pregnancy and thus avoid the birth of a child that would face a lifetime of a poor quality of life.

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NYC

NYC

Address
40 Fulton Street, NYC, New York, 10038.
Phone Number
18667759504
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Long Island

Address
1 Old Country Road, Carle Place, New York.
Phone Number
18667759504
Suffolk County

Suffolk County

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150 Motor Parkway, Hauppauge, New York, 11778.
Phone Number
18667759504