This summer, we will be taking a deeper look at the costs of treating injuries, disabilities, and other conditions which may arise as a result of medical malpractice. Many times, when we think of costs associated with medical malpractice, we focus on the costs associated with medical interventions and treatment that can be immediately necessary to reverse the effects of the medical error, once it is discovered.
However, medical malpractice can lead to serious injuries that require lifetime costs. Such costs do include medical services, but they can also include other interventions such as counseling, home modifications, learning support services, occupational therapy, and much more.
Today we are focusing on the costs associated with treating cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a developmental disorder. It can lead to impaired muscle coordination and other physical and mental disabilities. It is the most common motor disability in childhood in the United States.
The severity of symptoms can vary among cases of cerebral palsy. Individuals with cerebral palsy may need all, some, or more than the treatments included below:
- Surgery: in some cases, deformities of the bone require correction via orthopedic surgery. Additionally, in severe cases, nerves may be damaged or severed, requiring surgical intervention
- Therapy: in many cases of cerebral palsy, therapies are needed. This can include physical therapy to train muscles and improve mobility, occupational therapy to learn alternative strategies and/or how to use adaptive equipment to accomplish everyday tasks, and speech therapy.
- Medication: to treat muscle spasms, soreness, and other associated conditions, a medication regime may be necessary.
- Mental Health Services: mental health professionals may be necessary to support the child and his or her family cope with the child's disability
- Educational Services: additional services may be necessary once the child begins the educational process
- Home Modifications: depending on the severity of the disability, modifications to the interior and exterior of the home may be necessary, as well as adaptive transportation vehicles
- Additional Services: in addition to what has been listed above, additional services may be necessary
The cumulative costs of these treatments depend on a variety of factors, including the severity of the case and the length of which treatment is necessary. Many individuals with cerebral palsy continue to require treatment into adulthood. Costs can range from very minimal to millions of dollars for a lifetime of treatment. In a 2003 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) average lifetime costs for caring for a child with cerebral palsy in the United States was 941,000. Adjusted for inflation, that figure would be roughly 1.3 million dollars in 2019.
Insurance companies can and do cover some of these costs. However, such coverage is subject to a litany of restrictions and regulations. For example, many home modifications, such as the installation of a fence, adaptive furniture or play equipment, etc may not be covered as "not medically necessary" yet the implementation of such devices in the home can have a serious impact on the quality of life.
If you are faced with raising a child with cerebral palsy, we urge you to explore your legal options. Your focus should be on raising a happy, healthy child, rather than worrying about the economics of treatment. Our attorneys have decades of experience litigating medical malpractice claims and securing compensation for victims and their families. Don't hesitate to call us if you think you may have a claim.