What Types of Brain Injuries Are Caused by Medical Malpractice?

September 7, 2021

What types of brain injuries are caused by medical malpractice? Brain injuries can be caused by a wide range of actions or inactions, from car accidents to falls to being struck by an object. Medical malpractice can also cause brain injuries, but it is sometimes overlooked as a cause.

Anyone who gets medical treatment from a healthcare professional wants to assume that they are in the best hands possible and receiving the treatment they need. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. When a doctor makes a mistake, and it leads to a brain injury, it can affect the patient for the rest of their lives. In some cases, it can be fatal.

Every case is different, but some types of injuries frequently appear when they are related to medical malpractice.

Types of Brain Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice

Brain injuries caused by medical malpractice are very different from brain injuries caused by a traumatic event. In a medical malpractice situation, you may not realize that the brain injury could have been prevented if your health care professional had done things differently.

Whenever a brain injury arises after a medical event, it is worth at least considering whether medical malpractice occurred and getting a legal opinion about your situation.

Underlying Medical Issues

Perhaps one of the main reasons brain injuries occur is that the patient has an underlying medical condition that leads to brain damage. The potential for a medical malpractice claim arises when the doctor or another medical health professional does not diagnose and treat the underlying problem. In those cases, the brain injury may have been prevented, but the medical professional did not take action in time.

Examples of underlying medical conditions that might lead to brain damage include:

  • Mumps
  • Trichinosis
  • Rubella
  • Rabies
  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Myelitis
  • Cerebral cysticercosis
  • Abscesses.

Many other medical conditions can eventually lead to brain damage. The importance of quick, appropriate treatment is highlighted in these cases.


Sepsis is another medical condition that can lead to brain damage. It is especially problematic, because hospitals do not often look for the signs of sepsis and notice it only after it has done significant damage.

Sepsis is often contracted in the hospital. It causes organ failure, and one of the first organs to fail is the brain. Severe burns and significant wounds make the probability of contracting sepsis much higher.

Oxygen Deprivation: Brain Hypoxia

Brain hypoxia occurs when the brain does not get enough oxygen. If the brain is deprived of oxygen long enough, it can result in seizures, coma, and even brain death. More mild symptoms affect your memory, concentration, ability to move and to make decisions.

There are a wide variety of potential causes for this type of brain injury. However, when this brain injury is caused by medical malpractice, it is often the result of misdiagnosis, slow diagnosis, anesthesia errors, and problems related to surgery. In addition, if you have any underlying breathing problems, a delay in treatment can lead to oxygen deprivation in the brain.

Acute Medical Conditions

A failure to diagnose and treat an acute medical condition can also lead to brain damage. Misdiagnosis can also have the same result. Examples of these acute conditions include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Blood clot
  • Aneurysm
  • Brain bleed.

If left untreated or if not treated correctly, any of these can result in brain damage that can affect a patient for the rest of their lives.

Brain Bleeds (Brain Hemorrhage)

A brain hemorrhage is a type of stroke. It is caused when an artery bursts in the brain, resulting in bleeding that kills the brain cells in the surrounding area. It also results in swelling, which is called cerebral edema. The swelling increases the pressure in the brain, which then reduces the blood flow. Brain bleeds account for about 13% of all strokes.

Brain bleeds can result from surgical errors, liver disease, brain tumors, head trauma, and high blood pressure. Any of these can be caused by medical malpractice. Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis can also lead to issues that result in brain bleeds.

Brain Damage Caused by Medication Errors

Brain damage can be caused by medication errors as well. Incorrect dosages and incorrect medications, in general, can have serious health detriments, including brain bleeds and brain hypoxia. The wrong medication can result in situations where the brain damage will affect a patient for the rest of their lives.

These medication errors can occur both at the hospital and at the pharmacy. Receiving an incorrect prescription or the wrong type of dosage can be fatal in some situations.

Birth Injuries

Unfortunately, birth injuries related to the brain are among the most common types of injuries related to medical malpractice. These injuries can arise because of poor or incorrect care during pregnancy, or they can be the result of the birthing process itself.

Any time a brain injury occurs during or just after birth, you should take a hard look at the underlying cause so you can determine whether medical malpractice occurred.

What Should You Do If Medical Malpractice Causes a Brain Injury?

If you think you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury because of medical malpractice, you need to take two critical steps right away to protect your health and your rights to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

1. Talk to another doctor to get your health and safety addressed.
If you feel like your prior doctor made a mistake that resulted in a serious health issue like a brain injury, you need to seek medical attention elsewhere as soon as possible. Acting quickly is critical in situations that cause brain damage. In some cases, taking fast action can decrease the effects of brain damage.

Getting another opinion is also a good idea for your medical malpractice claim as well. Another doctor will often be able to tell you whether they think an error occurred and get you the treatment you need to help address it right away.

2. Speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
You have a limited amount of time to assert your medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania. You must file your complaint within two years of the date of the action and file a certificate of merit within 60 days of filing your case.

A knowledgeable and experienced brain injury lawyer can help you with this process. Call the team at Wapner Newman for more information or to schedule a free case evaluation: (215) 569-0900.