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EVAC Settles Suit with Mom Over Premature Birth Resulting in Cerebral Palsy

Posted Jul 27 2010 12:00am

Florida ambulance provider EVAC has settled a $5 million lawsuit with a local woman whose son was born two months prematurely while in an ambulance during a transfer between two hospitals. Margaritia Stivers Chess was being transferred from Bert Fish Medical Center to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children when her son was born in 2004. He now suffers from . Chess also settled a lawsuit with two doctors involved in the transfer for $1.4 million.  Jay Stapleton, Daytona Beach News Journal

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Cerebral Palsy results in a lifetime of medical treatment that these patients and their parents are confronted with after an injury such as this.  This is an area with which many of us in the life care planning field are called upon to provide assistance.

First of all, here is no cure for cerebral palsy, which can be caused by a number of reasons. The goal of treatment is to help the person be as independent as possible.

The particular case cited in the article was due to hypoxia, or lack of oxygen at birth.  As a Nurse Life Care Planner, all of the areas and more that are listed below come into play when establishing a life care plan for the individual affected.

Treatment requires a team approach, including but not limited to:

* Primary care doctor

* Dentist (dental check-ups are recommended around every 6 months)

* Social worker

* Nurses

* Occupational, physical, and speech therapists

* Other specialists, including a neurologist, rehabilitation physician, pulmonologist, and gastroenterologist

Self and home care include:

* Getting enough food and nutrition

* Keeping the home safe

* Performing exercises recommended by the health care providers

* Practicing proper bowel care (stool softeners, fluids, fiber, laxatives, regular bowel habits)

* Protecting the joints from injury

Putting the child in regular schools is recommended, unless physical disabilities or mental development makes this impossible. Special education or schooling may help.

The following may help with communication and learning:

* Glasses

* Hearing aids

* Muscle and bone braces

* Walking aids

* Wheelchairs

Physical therapy, occupational therapy, orthopedic help, or other treatments may also be needed to help with daily activities and care.

Medications may include:

* Anticonvulsants to prevent or reduce the frequency of seizures

* Botulinum toxin to help with spasticity and drooling

* Muscle relaxants (Baclofen) to reduce tremors and spasticity

Surgery may be needed in some cases to:

* Control gastroesophageal reflux

* Cut certain nerves from the spinal cord to help with pain and spasticity

* Place feeding tubes

* Release joint contractures

Many adults are able to live in the community, either independently or with different levels of help. In severe cases, the person may need to be placed in a long-term care institution of some sort.

Possible Complications to be planned for in the long term:

* Bone thinning or osteoporosis

* Bowel obstruction

* Hip dislocation and arthritis in the hip joint

* Injuries from falls

* Joint contractures

* Pneumonia caused by choking

* Poor nutrition

* Reduced communication skills (sometimes)

* Reduced intellect (sometimes)

* Scoliosis

* Seizures (in about half of patients)

* Social stigma

These cases can be quite challenging and it is always to the best benefit of the family and the child to have the services of a Nurse Life Care planner to ensure maximum independence of the CP patient.

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