Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy Birth Injury
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE, is a type of brain disorder resulting from partial or total oxygen deprivation and reduced blood flow. HIE often occurs in infants as a result of birth injuries that occur immediately before, during, or after birth as a result of preventable medical errors, medical malpractice, and/or negligence.
If your child suffered HIE, and you believe a negligent medical professional may be to blame, reach out to the team at Salenger, Sack, Kimmel & Bavaro, LLP. Since 1985, our experienced New York hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy attorneys have successfully represented children, parents, and families that have suffered devastating, life-altering consequences due to the careless and wrongful conduct of trusted medical providers.
We understand that this is an extremely difficult time in your life; our team offers compassionate, client-focused representation and an aggressive approach to protecting our clients’ rights. To date, we have secured more than $1 billion in compensation, including both settlements and jury verdicts.
What Is HIE?
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen and/or blood flow for a certain period of time, leading to brain damage. The term “hypoxic” refers to inadequate oxygen, “ischemic” refers to diminished blood flow, and “encephalopathy” refers to brain dysfunction.
Neonatal HIE can occur during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or immediately following birth. Depending on the severity of the brain damage, infants may experience mild, moderate, or severe effects.
Severe HIE can lead to various related conditions and disorders, such as cerebral palsy, cognitive impairment, developmental delays, and epilepsy/seizure disorders. Additionally, other organs within the body—such as the liver, kidneys, and heart—may also sustain damage due to limited oxygen and blood flow. While these organs may recover and return to normal or near-normal functioning, damage to the brain is often permanent.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of HIE?
The signs and symptoms of HIE depend on the severity of the damage, as well as a range of other factors. However, some symptoms are more commonly seen than others.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy in newborns include:
- Floppiness and low reactivity to stimulation or tenseness and over-reactivity to stimulation
- Unusual, abnormal movements
- Weak cry
- Difficulty eating/feeding
Other signs of HIE include symptoms of organ dysfunction, including problems with the heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs. Other risk factors, such as signs of fetal distress during labor/delivery or low heart rate, may indicate HIE.
HIE must be diagnosed by a medical provider. Diagnosis typically involves a series of neurological tests, such as MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), as well as electroencephalograms used to detect brain dysfunction and/or seizures.
What Are the Causes of HIE?
There are many potential causes of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, including:
- Maternal conditions, such as preeclampsia, diabetes, and vascular disease
- Maternal infections during pregnancy
- Congenital (meaning present at or before birth) fetal infections
- Maternal drug and/or alcohol abuse
- Improper development/formation of the lungs
- Issues with blood flow to the placenta
- Problems with the umbilical cord
- Placenta abruption
- Uterine rupture
- Abnormal or excessive placenta bleeding
- Low maternal blood pressure
- Breech presentation and other abnormal fetal presentation
- Prolonged labor
- Head and/or brain trauma
- Excessively low fetal blood pressure
- Fetal cardiac arrest and/or respiratory failure
- Premature birth
In some cases, HIE is indirectly or directly caused by medical negligence. When medical professionals fail to provide an acceptable standard of care, leading to preventable birth injuries, they can and should be held accountable.
When to File a Birth Injury Claim
If your child was diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy after a difficult labor or delivery, you may have a birth injury case. To prove your claim, you will need to demonstrate that the medical provider failed to uphold the accepted standard of care in the given circumstances, meaning they either did something that another qualified medical provider would not have done or failed to do something another qualified medical provider would have done in the same or similar circumstances.
Some examples of when medical malpractice may cause an HIE birth injury include:
- Failure to order a timely cesarean section (C-section)
- Failure to notice or respond to signs of fetal distress
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of maternal infections
- Failure to diagnose or treat preeclampsia
- Failure to diagnose or treat fetal infections or conditions
Although HIE is treatable, it must be treated right away. Unfortunately, doctors and other medical professionals do not always admit when they have made mistakes, and they do not always take the necessary actions to stop further brain damage immediately after a child is born.
Reasons to File a Lawsuit for Your Child's Birth Injury
One of the primary benefits of filing a lawsuit for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is that it can provide financial support to cover the long-term costs associated with caring for a child who is suffering from this condition. This includes medical expenses, such as doctor visits, hospital stays, and medication costs; therapy expenses; and any other costs associated with providing the best care possible for your child.
Hold Negligent Parties Accountable
Filing a lawsuit can also help to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions. When a medical professional or institution fails to provide adequate care, they should be held responsible for any harm caused by their negligence. By filing a lawsuit, you can ensure that those responsible are held liable and that justice is served.
A Sense of Closure
Another benefit of filing a lawsuit is that it can provide closure after an incident of medical malpractice has occurred. Filing a lawsuit allows you to have your day in court and tell your story in front of a judge or jury. This can be an empowering experience that helps you move forward after such an ordeal.
Finally, filing a lawsuit can help to improve standards in the medical profession by raising awareness about hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and its potential long-term effects on children’s health and development. By bringing attention to this issue through legal action, medical professionals may be more likely to take preventative measures when treating pregnant women or newborns at risk for this condition.
Let Us Help You Seek Justice
At Salenger, Sack, Kimmel & Bavaro, LLP, we fight tirelessly to hold negligent medical providers accountable for the immense harm they cause innocent children and families. Our New York HIE attorneys are dedicated to serving as a voice for the voiceless and can guide you through the entire legal process. We are here to answer your questions and help you seek the full, fair compensation you and your child are owed.
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