Can I sue for medical negligence if my child has Bell’s Palsy?

The birth of a newborn should be an exciting time for a parent. However, this joyous occasion doesn’t always go as planned, and the risks associated with childbirth can sometimes include instances of medical malpractice. Bell’s palsy is an example of a birth trauma that can sometimes occur due to the negligence of medical staff. It’s important to know the symptoms and causes of this condition if you plan to file a lawsuit for negligence.  

Understanding Bell’s Palsy and How to Recognize it

In infants, Bell’s palsy is a weakness or paralysis of one side of the face. While it’s not a long-term condition, it can lead to serious consequences and health complications. This condition involves the loss of muscle movement in an infant’s face due to pressure put on a particular facial nerve at or before the birth.

Bell’s palsy is typically characterized by the following symptoms that often appear in the lower part of the face and are especially noticeable when the infant cries:

  • The face (below the eyes) may look uneven.
  • The mouth does not move the same way on either side.
  • The eyelid might not close on the affected side of the face.
  • Paralysis may occur on the side of the face that’s affected. In more serious cases, this paralysis can occur from the forehead to chin.
  • The child may be unable to blink either one or both eyes
  • The child may drool.
  • The child’s face and/or eyes may droop.

Additionally, the child may experience facial weakness or numbness and be unable to feel sensation in the face.

What Causes This Condition?

The cause of Bell’s palsy is unknown, but problematic birth deliveries can play a part in developing this condition. Bell’s palsy can also occur after a head trauma, surgical errors, or viral infections. In the case of a birth injury, doctors using forceps in a negligent way can cause permanent or temporary Bell’s palsy. Forceps are a surgical instrument that doctors use during childbirth to help deliver the baby and are sometimes used as an alternative to a vacuum extraction.

Other causes of Bell’s palsy in infants include:

  • The herpes virus
  • Cold sores
  • Maternal infections
  • Upper respiratory infections like the common cold or the flu
  • Difficult deliveries

Is Your Child’s Bell’s Palsy Due to Negligence?

As a parent, it’s natural to wonder if there was any way to have prevented Bell’s palsy from happening to your child. And the answer is “not really.” There is no definitive way to prevent this type of pressure injury; however, it is the responsibility of the doctor and medical staff to mitigate the risk of this type of birth injury. By properly using forceps (this has reduced the number of Bell’s palsy injuries) and ensuring that maternal infections aren’t passed from mother to child, medical personnel can reduce the risks.

If your child’s Bell’s palsy is due to a birth injury, don’t hesitate to seek legal action. At Tapella Law, we’ll help determine the cause of the injury, if doctors and medical staff were at fault, and if this situation could have been prevented. We’ll work hard to get you any compensation your child and family deserve. Contact our offices to get a free consultation either via phone or through our website.