How Can Medical Malpractice Cause Brain Injury? By Sean Burke on October 11, 2018

A brain MRI Medical malpractice happens when a patient is injured as a result of the negligence or error of a hospital, doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional.

Most brain injuries are caused by an accident, like a car crash or a fall, but sometimes medical malpractice is at fault. If you or a loved one have suffered a brain injury and suspect medical malpractice, contact Orange County, CA attorney Sean M. Burke and his team to learn more about your legal options.

How Medical Malpractice Can Lead to Brain Injuries

Medical malpractice can result in brain injuries in a variety of ways. Sometimes, the source of the injury is obvious, for example a surgical error. Other times, the cause may be harder to pinpoint. For more clarity, let's take a closer look at some possible medical malpractice issues that can cause brain injuries.

Surgical Errors

Surgical errors, such as operating on the wrong location of the brain, using the wrong medical equipment, or leaving sponges inside the body, can cause irreparable damage to the brain.


Misdiagnosing a condition could lead to the wrong, or no, treatment being administered, potentially causing a brain injury. For example, misdiagnosing plaque stenosis within the carotid artery may go untreated and later block blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke and leading to brain injury.

Missed Diagnosis

Failure to detect a condition can also potentially lead to a brain injury. An example of this would be missing a blood clot within a patient's veins. This clot may break off and travel to blood vessels within the brain, causing a stroke and brain injury.


Abuse by healthcare professionals is sometimes to blame for brain injuries. Abuse is more common in nursing homes and may include hitting a patient in the head, pushing a patient off of the bed, or any other violent act that may cause a patient to suffer head trauma.


Infection acquired in a hospital or other healthcare facility can cause brain injury. Septicemia is a bacterial infection that spreads through the bloodstream and can cause a condition called sepsis.

When sepsis occurs, organ failure often rapidly follows. One of the first organs to be affected is usually the brain. Many patients who survive sepsis experience permanent brain damage.

Sepsis and other infections may be a result of medical malpractice when bacteria are introduced into the body through:

  • A urinary catheter infection
  • Central line infection
  • Surgical-site site infection
  • Infected bedsores

Lack of Oxygen to the Brain

Oxygen deprivation, or anoxia, can severely and permanently damage the brain. Medical errors, such as using a defective ventilator or failure to maintain a patient's blood pressure during surgery, can cause oxygen deprivation to the brain.

If oxygen deprivation occurs, it only takes a matter of minutes before damage begins to set in within the brain. The extent of damage largely depends on the duration of oxygen deprivation. In severe cases, patients may become brain dead.

Medication Errors

Administering an incorrect medication or incorrect dosage can have devastating effects on the brain. For example, over administering certain sedatives can cause patients to go into respiratory failure and cardiac arrest, both of which can cause brain injury or death.

Birth-related Injuries

A newborn baby may suffer a brain injury as a result of medical malpractice. This may happen if a nurse or doctor failed to notice signs of distress within the fetus or if a Caesarian-section was not performed soon enough. Failure to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord may also cause a brain injury through oxygen deprivation.

Contact the Personal Injury Lawyers of Burke Law

If you believe you or your loved one's brain injury was caused by medical malpractice, our personal injury lawyers can help. Call the law offices of Sean M. Burke at (949) 644-3434 or contact us online to schedule your private consultation.

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