Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

Michigan Birth Injury Lawyer for HIE – Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy 

Providing Experienced Representation for Families in Birth Injuries Caused By Lack of Oxygen

HIE, or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, is a severe complication, where a fetus or baby is deprived of oxygen at or near the time of childbirth.  HIE can result in profound and significant brain injuries, resulting in increased life-long care.  Tragically, in severe cases, HIE can be fatal.

The extent of a child’s injuries from HIE depends on several factors, the most important of which is the response of the medical team performing a delivery.  When medical providers fail to adequately and timely deliver a baby that is being deprived of oxygen, an infant can be left with severe lifelong brain damage and require lifetime care.

Get the Answers You Need

If your child developed a debilitating injuries as a result of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a physician or other medical provider may be legally at fault.  We understand.  You expect – and deserve – answers, not coverups or evasiveness.  We are here to help get you answers.

As experienced HIE birth injury lawyers, we (and our nurses on staff and our expert physicians) can evaluate your case to determine if medical malpractice occurred, and whether you are entitled to compensation for your child’s injuries.  Call our office to schedule a free case evaluation and to learn about your rights for seeking compensation.

What is Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy?

HIE is often known as birth asphyxia, perinatal asphyxia, or neonatal encephalopathy.  The condition is caused by the deprivation of oxygen to an infant’s brain during or immediately before delivery.  When blood flow and oxygen is restricted to a baby, a baby’s brain cells can die, causing them to suffer permanent brain damage.

HIE can result from many causes, including:

  • Delayed or prolonged delivery
  • Uterine rupture
  • Mismanaged high-risk pregnancy
  • Failure to respond to fetal monitoring findings that indicate C-section delivery
  • Umbilical cord strangulation
  • Prolapsed umbilical cord
  • Traumatic brain bleeds or intracranial hemorrhage (caused by traumatic delivery)
  • Low amniotic fluid levels

What Are the Signs or Symptoms of HIE?

There are several signs or symptoms associated with HIE, including:

  • An acute event during labor or delivery, such placental abruption, or umbilical cord prolapse.
  • Meconium-stained amniotic fluid
  • Seizures after birth/ Abnormal EEG (electroencephalogram) testing
  • Low Apgar scores at birth (a 1-10 number measuring a baby’s well-being after birth)
  • Blue or pale skin
  • Babies who are not breathing at birth and require resuscitation
  • Poor muscle tone or weakness at birth
  • High blood-acid levels (often known as metabolic acidosis)
  • Abnormal head imaging findings on MRI, CT scan or ultrasound.
  • Cooling (also known as Hypothermia) therapy [done with a blanket or head cap] started within 6 hours after birth.

If a physician fails to perform appropriate care during pregnancy and during labor and delivery, a baby can suffer HIE as a result and can display the above signs and symptoms. If you or your child experienced any of the above signs or symptoms, then you should contact a birth injury attorney to determine whether the doctors made a medical mistake and are responsible for any injuries they caused.

What Are the Complications of HIE?

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy can have profound implications.  Mild HIE may result in minor developmental delays and learning disabilities.  However, moderate and severe cases can result in the following conditions:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Microcephaly
  • Craniosynostosis
  • Cortico-visual impairment
  • Epilepsy (seizure often persist for life)
  • Developmental Delay
  • Cognitive Impairment

Can HIE Be Treated?

Yes.  The most crucial treatment for HIE is therapeutic hypothermia, in which a newborn’s brain is cooled in order to slow the spread of brain cell injury and death.  In some cases, it may be possible to lessen or prevent permanent brain damage.  Therapy should begin as soon as possible after the HIE injury, typically within six hours of birth.[1]

My Baby Was Diagnosed with HIE.  What Should I Do Next?

After receiving an HIE diagnosis, it is critical to speak with a physician about therapeutic hypothermia or other alternative therapy options.  However, it is essential to recognize that it is not a parent’s responsibility to know what treatments are appropriate and necessary – that is the job of a child’s physician.  A doctor should make recommendations so that parents can make informed decisions regarding treatment, as the failure to do so can be medical malpractice.

If a child has long-term complications from HIE, parents or caregivers may need to consider placing the child in various occupational, speech, and physical therapy programs.  Additionally, medication, surgery, and educational intervention may also be necessary.

Paying for Care for Those Severely Injured by HIE

If your child sustained a traumatic HIE brain injury, and you are concerned about how you will afford care for their condition, there are options available, especially if the HIE resulted from a medical error.  As Michigan birth injury lawyers, when we first meet with a new client, our role is to learn the entirety of the facts and circumstances surrounding the birth injury, and to learn about the child’s current status and prognosis.  We will want to obtain all pertinent records, and to have these reviewed by the nurses that are on staff at our firm, as well as physicians and medical experts. Following this review, we can advise of your options for pursuing compensation and damages from all those who we believe are legally at fault.

We understand that many people are reluctant to engage in litigation.  Litigation holds medical providers accountable, and helps families pay for the cost of care for a seriously injured child.

Lifelong care expenses can easily reach into the millions of dollars for children who have sustained severe injuries.  Care will be necessary for the entire lifetime of an injured child.  We want to achieve what is fair – seeking the full compensation required based upon the injuries caused by medical mistakes. 

Can I Sue for My Child’s Brain Injuries Which Resulted from HIE?

Yes. If a physician or other medical provider failed to provide the standard of care in any aspect of the birth, including:

  • failing to conduct proper fetal monitoring;
  • failing to diagnose and treat infection;
  • failing to timely deliver to prevent HIE or lack of oxygen to a baby;
  • failure to timely perform a C-section delivery;
  • improperly using forceps or vacuums during delivery;
  • failure to timely intubate or assist a baby breathe after birth;
  • failure to give therapeutic hypothermia (cooling) to treat your child’s HIE;
  • failure to give light therapy to treat jaundice;
  • failure to ensure that a baby’s sugars are within a normal range;
  • failure to treat seizures;

then medical providers can be liable for medical negligence or malpractice.

We Invite You to Call Our Office to Speak with an Attorney About Your Case

We have decades of combined experience helping parents with children who are the victims of medical malpractice get the full compensation needed and deserved in the case of a severe birth injury.  We invite you to call our office today for a free consultation and to learn how we can help.

[1] Ming-Chou Chiang, Therapeutic hypothermia for neonates with hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, Pediatrics and Neonatology, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S187if5957217301754.

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