Seattle Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Attorneys

How to Recover Damages for Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is also known as birth asphyxia, and it's a serious condition in which the entire brain of an infant is deprived of oxygen or has a limited blood flow being directed to it. When this occurs, brain cells can quickly begin to die and that can cause extensive brain damage. In most cases, HIE is preventable, and even when it does happen, doctors can often limit the amount of damage that's done with prompt treatment. If a doctor suspects a baby to have suffered from HIE, they are required by law to provide treatment.

Of all the things that can go wrong with neurological functions during a birth, HIE is the most common, and it can also be the most devastating. In the worst of cases, babies that are affected by HIE during their birth will not survive it, and about 25% of them will go on to live with significant brain damage. That brain damage can result in a number of mental and physical disabilities including cerebral palsy, seizures, learning disabilities, and development disabilities. The actual damage done, and the extent of that damage, will be determined by:

  • How severe the oxygen deprivation was
  • The length of time the baby was deprived of oxygen
  • The health of the baby prior to being deprived of oxygen
  • How the doctor and other medical staff managed the condition after the oxygen deprivation occurred

Causes of HIE

Unfortunately, there are a number of complications that can occur during the birth process and cause HIE in the infant. The most common causes are:

  • Mismanagement of Labor
  • Mismanagement of Pitocin or Oxytocin by nurses, physicians, or midwives
  • Head compression from increased pressure during resting contraction
  • Umbilical cord complications (nuchal cord, prolapsed cord, etc)
  • Problems with the placenta or uterus such as uterine rupture or placenta previa
  • Tachysystole (too many uterine contractions)
  • High fetal heart rate in between contractions
  • Errors made or inattention during fetal monitoring
  • Hemorrhages or trauma to the infant's brain during delivery
  • Complications due to baby's size or position (such as the baby being breech or the head being too large to pass through the birth canal)
  • Emergency C-section being delayed
  • Conditions with the mother mismanaged (such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia, or infection)
  • Oligohydramnios (insufficient amniotic fluid)
  • Premature rupture of the membranes
  • Premature birth
  • Prolonged and arrested labor
  • Fetal stroke

Signs and Symptoms of HIE

When an infant has suffered from HIE, there are signs and symptoms that are apparent right after the birth. The most common are:

  • Infant needs to be resuscitated after birth
  • Infant needs cold-cap or cold capping after birth
  • Low APGAR scores that last longer than 5 minutes
  • Seizures, 24 to 48 hours after delivery
  • Difficulty while feeding, including failure to latch, suck, or swallow
  • Low pH in the baby's blood, a condition known as metabolic or mixed academia (metabolic acidosis)
  • Low muscle tone, a condition known as hypotonia (hypotonic)
  • More limpness in arms and legs than normal
  • Problems involving multiple organs
  • Baby is in a coma upon birth
  • Treatment in neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is needed.

How to Find Legal Help for Children Born With HIE

If you or a loved one has had a baby that's been affected with HIE, call us at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. These cases require an extensive knowledge about medicine and the law and our Seattle birth injury lawyers have both. We know how to fight medical malpractice cases, and we know how to get justice for parents. If the best day of your life has turned into one of tragedy, or your baby has suffered unnecessary birth injuries, don't hesitate another second. Call us toll-free at (888) 228-3860, and speak to one of our representatives. These cases can be some of the most difficult for parents, but here at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., we're here for you.

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Written by Joseph Pendergast, this book is designed to help people who have suffered a personal injury understand their rights and the steps to take to be sure they get the compensation they deserve.

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555 South Renton Village Pl. Suite 640
Renton, WA 98057
(888) 228-3860
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