Jaundice occurs when the blood has high levels of bilirubin. Bilirubin is the substance made from the death of old red blood cells. Jaundice can occur after birth for several reasons, from poor infant liver function to cephalohematoma birth injuries. When doctors fail to track and treat jaundice, it can turn into severe jaundice and kernicterus.
Severe jaundice poses threats to the infant’s physical and mental health. If your child suffered from severe jaundice, find out if he/she is a victim of medical malpractice. Speak to the Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys at Anapol Weiss in Philadelphia.
Severe Jaundice and Malpractice
It is somewhat normal for babies to display jaundice. During pregnancy, the mother’s liver controls bilirubin levels in the baby. After birth, it becomes the infant’s liver’s responsibility. Sometimes, the baby’s liver cannot work fast enough to process the bilirubin. An increase in the amount of bilirubin in the blood after birth can cause the skin to yellow (called jaundice). It’s natural for babies to exhibit jaundice until the liver begins to function normally. However, if bilirubin levels are too high for too long, severe jaundice can occur.
Severe jaundice can lead to kernicterus, a form of brain damage from bilirubin collecting in the brain. Kernicterus can lead to cerebral palsy, hearing loss, intellectual disability, and even death. There are ways to treat jaundice before it becomes severe, including light therapy and blood transfusions. Most jaundice goes away on its own, without treatment. It’s up to your doctor to monitor your child’s jaundice levels and recommend treatment if necessary.
A competent doctor knows how to analyze a child’s genetic history and environment to predict and prevent severe jaundice. Even if jaundice does become an issue, a doctor has the power to prevent serious brain damage. Kernicterus is always preventable with the proper medical attention. Only when a doctor negligently fails to detect, prevent, and/or treat severe jaundice will it lead to harmful and sometimes permanent health defects.
Pursuing Compensation for Your Child’s Severe Jaundice
Severe jaundice, if left untreated, can cause learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and several other issues. If your child has suffered health consequences from severe jaundice and/or kernicterus, you may be eligible to receive compensation from the at-fault party. This is the case if you can prove four main elements:
- The doctor owed you a duty of care. A doctor-patient relationship must have existed at the time of the injury. You must have hired the doctor, and the doctor must have agreed to the hire.
- The doctor breached his/her duties. Severe jaundice typically points to an obvious breach of duty since it is a doctor’s responsibility to detect and treat jaundice before it worsens. Plaintiffs often use experts to testify that a reasonably competent doctor would have done something differently to treat jaundice in similar circumstances. The breach caused the child’s injury. The doctor’s breach of duty must be the proximate or the main cause of your child’s injuries.
- The child suffered damages. Damages can include physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, medical bills, and disability costs. Severe jaundice resulting in brain damage or cerebral palsy can often lead to lifelong medical expenses and treatments.
How Anapol Weiss Can Help
The attorneys at Anapol Weiss can help you navigate the complex Pennsylvania court system for your severe jaundice case. Our talented lawyers have decades of experience in and out of the courtroom, and we specialize in birth injury lawsuits. We have the skill and history to maximize your chances of recovery. We want to help you seek justice for your infant. If your child has severe jaundice, contact our team. He/she has likely been the victim of medical malpractice.