Failure to Diagnose Hydrocephalus or “water in the brain”

When a child is ill, the timing of medical treatment can be crucial to avoiding permanent injury as well as ensuring future quality of life. Many medical devices exist to treat conditions and promote well being; however, sometimes devices break or fail. When a Chicago doctor or other health care provider fails to diagnose a malfunctioning medical device, the results can be devastating.

If you have suffered injuries at the hands of a medical professional in Chicago or the Suburbs you may be entitled to thousands of dollars for your injuries, lost wages, medical bills and long term care. I have proudly recovered over 150 Million Dollars for injury and accident victims and I will fight for you!!! Me and my team of experienced medical malpractice lawyers will fight for you! We are a local law firm, serving all of Northern Illinois with our law offices located in downtown Chicago. As the son of a Chicago Steel worker and as a former police detective, I understands firsthand the importance of helping the good people of Northern Illinois and Chicago recover for injuries resulting from a medical professional’s negligence. No matter where you live in Illinois, Chicago or the Suburbs I am here for you 24 hours a day 7 days week, Me or one of my experienced medical malpractice attorneys would be honored to meet you in person to advise you of all of your legal rights and would be honored to personally help you during this difficult time. If you have questions about your medical malpractice case call me now for a free consultation at 312-888-8000.

Hydrocephalus is sometimes called “water in the brain”. Hydrocephalus is basically an overabundance of cerebrospinal fluid within the head. Hydrocephalus occurs when the cerebrospinal fluid, which circulates around the brain, fails to drain properly. When this fluid does not drain, it creates pressure on the brain. While hydrocephalus is usually thought of as occurring in the newborn it is not uncommon for adults to develop this condition as well. If left undiagnosed and untreated, hydrocephalus can cause short-term memory loss, impaired motor skills, vision problems, convulsions, seizures, and mental retardation.

Depending on the age and physical development of the patient, the symptoms of hydrocephalus may vary. In infants, an obvious sign of hydrocephalus is a rapid increase of skull circumference. This is due to the fact that the skull has not fused together yet and the fluid pushes through the gaps in the bones. For older patients, the symptoms typically include headaches and a host of other motor problems as pressure on different areas of the brain impair the functions that it controls.

The common treatment for hydrocephalus is the surgical placement of shunts to encourage proper draining of the cerebrospinal fluid, which helps alleviate the pressure around the brain. If the cerebrospinal fluid is not drained white matter damage, gliotic scarring, grey matter damage and death may result. The increase in intracranial pressure may also cause brain herniation.

The manner in which cerebrospinal fluid is drained in a patient, adult or child, with hydrocephalus is by means of a shunt, most commonly a ventricular peritoneal shunt. Shunts are placed between the brain ventricles and in the abdominal cavity to reduce the high internal pressure of fluid. When the intracranial pressure reaches a level at which the valve is engineered it is activated and drains the fluid thereby preventing dilation of the ventricles and a potentially lethal increase in intracranial pressure.

The shunt that is placed in the brain is a medical device made of flexible but sturdy plastic tubing. A catheter is attached to the shunt to divert the cerebrospinal fluid to another area of the body where it can be reabsorbed. The treatment for hydrocephalus does not end once the shunt is surgically implanted into the patient. A medical professional should monitor the patient to ensure that the device is working properly. Obviously, as in any foreign device, failures may take place. It is therefore incumbent upon the physician treating such a patient to be cognizant of the clinical signs of shunt failure. Debris, infection and catheter migration among others may clog the ventricular catheter. The peritoneal catheter may also become clogged or obstructed by infection, movement and other causes. Classic clinical signs of a malfunctioning shunt include severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, impaired balance, lethargy and papilloedema. Failure to diagnose a malfunctioning shunt in a hydrocephalic child can be a very serious error for a Chicago physician to make as a blockage in the shunt may increase the pressure on the brain, which can lead to serious injury for the child.

It is mandatory in a shunted patient displaying these symptoms for a Chicago doctor or other health care provider to order a CT Scan of the brain which must be compared to a prior baseline scan and/or records of the scan, if available. An interval increase in the size of the ventricles is likely proof of shunt failure and necessitates surgery to revise the shunt. If there was such a prior CT Scan and/or records of the scan available which demonstrate an interval expansion of the ventricles and surgery to repair the shunt was not promptly performed resulting in the Chicago patient suffering brain damage or death you or your loved one may be a victim of medical malpractice.

For many years physicians often relied on pumping the shunt (the valve) to see if there was a return of cerebrospinal fluid to determine whether the shunt was functioning. Although shunt pumping may provide useful information, it has now been demonstrated that pumping the shunt is not an effective means of testing shunt function. Pumping the shunt will not reveal whether the valve is functioning at the pressure for which it is engineered. It will also not reveal intermittent obstruction of the shunt whether it be distal or proximal.

I have years’ worth of experience examining, preparing and presenting complicated medical evidence. I work closely with medical experts, such as doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and therapists throughout the legal process. If necessary, I can also retain expert accountants and financial analysts because many medical malpractice cases have their own set of associated losses including lost wages, the cost of care and many other monetary costs. I do this in order to accurately assess what these costs will be for the remainder of a victim’s life, we use financial professionals to derive fair resolutions for our injury victims. It is through this coordinated effort that I have consistently obtained record-breaking awards and settlements and obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for their injured clients.

My staff and I always consider it an honor to be contacted by the people of Chicago or the Suburbs who have suffered injuries at the hands of a negligent medical professional, and we will always be ready to listen to all of your concerns over the damages and losses you have suffered as a result of their medical malpractice. Me and my team of experienced medical malpractice lawyers will fight for you. No matter where you live in Illinois, Chicago or the Suburbs I am here for you 24 hours a day 7 days week, Me or one of my experienced medical malpractice attorneys will be honored to meet you in person to advise you of all of your legal rights and will be honored to personally help you during this difficult time. Me and my experienced team of Chicago attorneys have proudly recovered over 150 Million Dollars for injury and accident victims. If you have questions about your medical malpractice case call me now for a free consultation at 312-888-8000.

If you or a family member have suffered a personal injury as a result of medical malpractice, negligence or carelessness of a Chicago doctor or other Chicago health care provider, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice due to the Failure to diagnose a malfunctioning shunt by a Chicago doctor or other Chicago health care provider, please contact me at (312) 888-8000 to learn more about your legal rights.

Sincerely,

About Dan Newlin