Failure to Diagnose Shunt Malfunction Resulting in Hydrocephalus
Shunts are medical devices that are required for some patients to be implanted into the brain to help treat various conditions, the most predominant condition being hydrocephalus. If a physician fails to diagnose shunt malfunction, a patient can suffer drastic consequences.
Hydrocephalus, also commonly referred to as “water on the brain,” occurs when an individual has an abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in brain ventricles or brain cavities. If hydrocephalus goes untreated, if a physician makes any error in inserting a cerebral shunt, if the shunt is defective, or if a physician fails to diagnose shunt malfunction, an individual can suffer from increased intracranial pressure inside of their skull and progressive enlargement of the head. Other serious consequences can include convulsions, mental disability, and even death.
While cerebral shunts are frequently used to help treat hydrocephalus, these devices may fail as soon as two years after implantation. This is why it is so important for physicians to provide a high standard of care to patients who may be experiencing shunt failure. If a shunt malfunctions and a physician does not detect the problem, a patient with the serious and life-threatening condition of hydrocephalus can relapse. Shunt failure often results in the new onset of hydrocephalus. Some common symptoms may include headaches, vomiting, nausea, double-vision, and an alteration of consciousness.
Hydrocephalus patients who relapse or develop new medical conditions due to a physician’s failure to diagnose shunt malfunction have legal rights that a Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney will work diligently to protect. Similarly, family members of patients who die as a result of this form of medical malpractice may be able to hold negligent parties liable. While patients and family members may view medical malpractice litigation as intimidating, such processes help prevent similar forms of negligence from causing preventable injury and death to patients in the future.