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The medical community’s role in diagnosing and treating Cerebral Palsy is one that has an indelible impact on a child. Physicians and therapists provide a front-line defense that help expectant mothers prepare for a healthy birth. Medical assistance is most effective when expectant mothers alert doctors of concerns and standards of care are followed.
The role of the medical community
A physician’s role in preventing Cerebral Palsy is setting the standard for patient care for each individual parent.
Although physicians are responsible for maintaining standard levels of care, each pregnancy is unique, and medical professionals must be able to respond to individual circumstances. Moreover, they need to be able to treat conditions within a patient’s individual set of circumstances. This is accomplished by providing outstanding care to a mother and child pre-term, and after a child is born. It is also accomplished when physicians are careful about the policies and practices of the physician network they belong to and the hospitals they deliver in.
Activities that a physician engages in that contributes to the prevention of Cerebral Palsy include:
- Insisting on pre-natal care, including running tests that might identify problems early, when they can potentially be treated
- Employing electronic fetal monitoring during the delivery process to ensure that a child is not in distress and that a child is receiving adequate levels of oxygen
- Counseling a woman about healthful practices during pregnancy, including preconception counseling with a father or partner
- Managing health conditions, such as infections. Also, treating sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes, which studies have shown may be transmitted to a child
- Ordering genetic tests to identify the presence of conditions that can cause neurological troubles that are inherited
- Ensuring that a child is up-to-date with immunizations to curtail the possibility of infectious diseases like rubella
- Properly responding to and addressing emergency situations, such as bleeding, that occur during pregnancy
- Employing testing such as TORCH testing, which assesses and monitors immunity in women that do not immediately demonstrate immunity, and documenting APGAR scores, which assess a baby’s heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes and skin condition immediately after birth
- Staying current on industry standards of care
- Educating patients in terms of best practices before, during and after pregnancy
- Maintaining a history void of medical malpractice and birth injuries
- Checking a child for jaundice after delivery
- Treating a child during the vulnerable months after he or she is born through well-baby visits designed to identify and correct medical conditions that could lead to brain injuries, as well as tracking a child’s growth and development
Physicians also must guard against:
- Avoiding and reporting unethical medical practices
- Complacency in treatment protocols
- Associating with or practicing at physician networks or hospitals with substandard levels of patient care, quality measures, or high rates of birth injury cases
- Responsiveness to emergent conditions
- Child abuse (reporting to authorities)
A physician is a trusted professional that is the first line of defense against crisis situations. It is suggested that if a parent does not have confidence in a physician’s capabilities, or that the physician doesn’t have the child’s best interest in mind, they should not hesitate to question the doctor further, obtain a second opinion, or make a change.