The medical community describes injuries that are not caused by genetic or congenital disorders as “acquired brain injuries.”*
An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is sudden damage to the brain that occurs during a person’s lifetime. The two main types of ABI are Traumatic Brain Injury and Non-Traumatic Brain Injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
TBI results from damage to the brain caused by an impact to the head resulting from traffic accidents, falling from a height, trip-and-fall accidents, and physical assault, for example. The three main types of TBI are:
- closed head injuries
- open or penetrating wounds
- crushing injuries
Brain injuries arising from accidents that cause greatest harm to the victim are:
Hematoma: Caused by blood collecting and clotting outside the blood vessels and can be extremely serious if it occurs in the brain. The clotting can cause pressure to build up in the skull, resulting in a loss of consciousness.
Concussion: Occurs when the brain bounces off the hard walls of the skull. Concussions are generally temporary in nature, but repeated concussions can lead to permanent damage.
Oedema: Happens when the tissues surrounding the brain swell
Skull fracture: A lack of bone marrow makes the skull difficult to break, so if it is broken, damage to the brain is likely.
Diffuse Axonal Injury: The most serious of all brain injuries, diffuse axonal injury can lead to permanent, severe brain damage or even death.
The effects and severity of a brain injury can vary. Symptoms may include cognitive difficulties, memory loss, poor concentration, permanent brain damage, and physical disability.
Non-Traumatic Brain Injury (NTBI)
NTBI results from an illness or a condition within the body, rather than a blow to the head. Common causes include encephalitis, hypoxia, tumours, hydrocephalus, and vascular problems such as stroke, haemorrhage, or an aneurysm. NTBIs can also occur as a result of medical negligence.
Acquired Brain Injury and Medical Negligence
In the context of medical negligence litigation, acquired brain injuries refer to brain injuries that could have been prevented, or at least significantly reduced, if competent medical care had been provided by medical professionals.
Neurology is the area of medicine that deals with conditions and diseases of the brain and spinal cord. Brain or neurological injuries can occur in several medical contexts, including (but not limited to):
- Surgery – i.e. due to blood loss, or errors relating to anaesthesia
- Undiagnosed haemorrhages, blood clots, strokes, or other cardio / vascular issues
- Undiagnosed meningitis
- Undiagnosed cancer
Indeed, neurological injuries can be caused by the failure to deal with such underlying conditions as undiagnosed, untreated hypertension and renal failure causing hypertensive encephalopathy, seizures, and ultimate brain damage. Medical professionals have a duty of care to protect the health of patients, including taking care not to cause injury during their work. A failure to provide adequate medical care can have catastrophic consequences for the person who suffers a brain injury.
Treatment for a neurological problem can be negligent itself:
- Operations can be performed negligently by neurosurgeons, resulting in damage that could have been avoided.
- The wrong procedure may be carried out.
- The standard of the aftercare following a complicated procedure may be inadequate and substandard.
Bringing a Claim for Medical Negligence Relating to Brain Injury
To bring a claim for medical negligence relating to brain damage, it will be necessary to provide evidence that:
- the medical care you received was below a satisfactory standard (i.e. the medical professional fell below the requisite standard of care, or another medical professional would not have made the same error)
- this negligence caused you damage or injury
To prove your case, we will compile evidence including medical records, and seek expert medical opinion.