Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or neonatal encephalopathy is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain during birth. Without oxygen, brain cell death can cause permanent damage. Learning that your child has experienced HIE can leave you confused, frightened, and wondering what to do.
A hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy attorney in Washington can help you to navigate the legal options available to you and offer advice on the best way to proceed. If medical negligence was the cause of birth injuries to your child, you may be able to pursue compensation.
This compensation can help you to pay for medical expenses that may become lifelong, and extremely cost-prohibitive for most families. The attorneys with the Birth Injury Lawyers Group are well versed in medical malpractice law surrounding birth injuries and HIE and can offer sensitive guidance and strong representation as you seek justice for your child’s injuries.
For a free legal consultation, call 1-800-222-9529
What Can Lead to Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
Sometimes, unpreventable causes lead to HIE, but other times, the action or inaction of medical providers can be to blame. The baby’s airway could be improperly formed or blocked, the baby can experience anemia, and many other unavoidable situations could contribute to HIE.
However, if your baby experienced hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy as the result of medical error or lack of clinical skills, you deserve to know. Some of the other possible causes that lead to HIE include:
Stressful or Prolonged Delivery
If the mother is left to labor for too long or the baby is in distress for any reason, a medical professional has the responsibility to recognize the potentially damaging effects to the baby. If a Caesarian Section is performed too late, the baby’s oxygen supply can be compromised. This can lead to an HIE occurrence.
Complications Due to High-Risk Pregnancy
If a medical provider such as a doctor or midwife do not consider and treat gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or high or low blood pressure in the mother, the consequences can include HIE among other problematic complications.
The failure to acknowledge these issues within reasonable medical parameters could be considered negligence.
A Washington hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy attorney understands the medical aspects of high-risk pregnancies. A lawyer may be able to locate evidence that medical failures led to the birth injuries experienced by your child.
Shoulder Dystocia Complications
A baby can be in a precarious position when the shoulders are passing through the pelvis. If the baby’s shoulders become stuck, the person delivering the baby will need to reposition the child so that it can continue to move through the birth canal.
The healthcare provider can sometimes use too much force with a vacuum extractor or the forceps are misused, causing shoulder dystocia. HIE can result from this situation, and an HIE attorney can investigate these circumstances.
Maternal or Fetal Infections
If the medical providers involved in your prenatal care and delivery failed to recognize, diagnose, or treat infections that led to hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, they can be held liable. Infections can be extremely serious and need proper treatment to maintain the health of the mother and the child.
Pitocin and Induction Drug Overuse
Pitocin is a synthetic hormone that mimics the natural hormone oxytocin. This drug is administered to the mother to induce labor and delivery. If the medication is not properly administered or given in too large a dose, the contractions become too frequent and too strong to allow the baby an ample supply of blood flow.
The medical personnel involved in prescribing, providing, and administering the drug could be held responsible. Lawyers experienced with HIE in birth injury cases are very familiar with HIE instances resulting from Pitocin overuse and may be able to help you to seek compensation for the damages caused.
Improper Fetal Monitoring
Fetal monitoring is extremely important in observing the ongoing heart rate of the baby during the stressful time of labor and delivery for some pregnancies, especially if there are high-risk conditions.
The fetal monitoring machine is often the first defense against hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Failure to properly observe or interpret the readings can lead to disastrous consequences.
Sadly, perinatal asphyxia is frequently due to medical errors. Failing to comply with clinical guidelines, inadequate training, not seeking the assistance of senior medical staff, and drug administration errors are all preventable. You should not be held financially responsible for these failings.
A Washington birth injury attorney can help you to seek compensation when avoidable medical mistakes resulted in the occurrence of HIE.
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How Do I Know if My Baby Experienced HIE?
Sometimes, HIE can remain undetected. Symptoms of the occurrence can present years after birth and into early childhood. Based on the area of the brain that experienced the damage, the symptoms can range from mild to extremely severe.
The early symptoms your baby may have experienced hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy include:
- Abnormal responses to light
- Baby experienced seizures after delivery
- Baby had a low heart rate
- Baby was resuscitated at birth
- Bluish skin tone
- Breathing difficulties
- Difficulties with feeding or swallowing
- Experiencing issues in multiple organs
- Low Apgar scores after five minutes
- Low muscle tone, limpness
When HIE is suspected, the doctor typically orders MRI scans or an ultrasound of the baby’s head. Therapeutic hypothermia or head cooling can be administered after birth to cool the baby’s body temperature to help minimize the effects of HIE.
Contact a Washington Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Lawyer
If hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy occurrence is caught immediately after birth and treated in time, it helps in mitigating the damage. If it was unrecognized and untreated, the medical providers may be held liable.
A Washington HIE attorney with the Birth Injury Lawyers Group can review the details of your situation, and can help you with options. Contact us today to learn how we may be able to identify instances of negligence that caused HIE and build a solid case for your compensation.