Understanding What Went Wrong When a Baby Has Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy at Birth
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a devastating birth injury. This birth injury occurs to due a lack of oxygen to the brain. Due to the baby being deprived of oxygen, brain damage unfortunately occurs. Lack of oxygen to the brain is referred to as hypoxia, while lack of blood flow to the brain is referred to as ischemia. This type of injury is particularly catastrophic to an infant’s developing brain which can lead to lifelong, permanent disability. Unfortunately, HIE is preventable and avoidable in most instances with the proper care and treatment of a healthcare professional. Thus, when a baby has hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy at birth in Oregon, it can be due to serious medical malpractice that needs to be addressed.
The damage caused by HIE results in lesions on the brain which indicate which type of disability the baby will have. This type of injury typically occurs during labor and delivery. While there are some instances of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy that are unfortunately unavoidable, often times hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy could be prevented with proper medical care and treatment. Our Oregon medical malpractice lawyers know how dangerous and devastating hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy can be and are prepared to help you and your loved ones get the justice you deserve.
Understanding Hypoxic Injuries to the Brain
Most people do not know what HIE is unless their baby has hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy at birth. This is because it is not a common condition and it is a very complicated condition. Many healthcare providers will just call it a type of hypoxic injury to the brain.
But it is important to understand this injury and how it occurs because that can help a family establish liability and recover compensation for their loved one’s injuries. And knowing what has caused the hypoxic condition is very important.
Generally, a hypoxic injury is an injury caused by a decrease or insufficiency in oxygen. The body needs a certain amount of oxygen and it only get 70% of that need, therefore there will be a hypoxic injury from the deficiency. This is a serious injury, but not as serious as an anoxic injury. An anoxic injury is an injury caused by a complete lack of oxygen. This means that there is a body-wide decrease and insufficiency which results in significant and catastrophic injuries at a very rapid pace.
But a hypoxic injury that occurs over a long period of time can also be destructive and damaging. This is particularly true to a newborn who is very vulnerable to any type of injury—especially to a hypoxic injury. A baby’s brain is rapidly developing and absorbing oxygen at a high rate, and any decrease in that need could be dangerous.
What is HIE?
When a baby has hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy at birth, there is a huge problem. This is a hypoxic type of injury so that means a decease in oxygen. The cause for the hypoxia is due to a decreased blood flow or a type of ischemic injury. It is the red blood cells that carry oxygen to the parts of the body and if there is a decrease in red blood cells that can result in serious personal injuries to the brain, or encephalopathy. This injury is what hypoxic (decrease in oxygen) ischemic (relating to blood) encephalopathy (brain injury).
Causes of Medical Malpractice-Related Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy in Oregon
As stated above, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is a result of lack of oxygenated blood flow to the brain which results in brain damage. Oftentimes, this type of injury could have been prevented, meaning that a child was needlessly injured, and will struggle with permanent brain damage for the rest of their lives. Some common causes of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy include the following:
- Umbilical cord prolapse or rupture
- Cord compression
- Failing to observe for fetal distress during labor and delivery
- Delivery mishandling of the infant
- Wrapping of the umbilical cord around the baby’s neck during labor and delivery
- Shoulder dystocia
- Anesthesia mistakes
- Delay in delivery via c-section after uterine rupture
- Overuse of Pitocin or other medications to stimulate labor or improper monitoring of mother and baby while receiving these medications
- Excessive contractions
- Decrease in oxygen saturation of the mother or the baby, and
- Many other common causes.
These are just a few of the many possible medical malpractice causes of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.
Liability of Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy-Related Injuries in Oregon
Once hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is identified, it is important to identify the cause; whether it was avoidable or unavoidable. It is recommended that any hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy case be reviewed for free by our knowledgable lawyers. Some of parties most commonly liable include the following:
- Doctors – It is a physicians’ responsibility to monitor and prescribe the treatment plan for the mother and baby’s care. It is their decision whether or not to alter the plan from a vaginal birth to a c-section. Failure to make that decision or delay a c-section may be the direct cause of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. Ultimately, they are the individuals most responsible for the patient’s treatment plan. Additionally, it is the physician who delivers the baby. Therefore, any mishandling during the birth can cause hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy at the hands of the physician. When a baby has hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy at birth, it is likely the fault of one of these processionals.
- Nurses – Nurse are the most involved with patients, seeing them from time of admission through the birth of their baby. It is the nurses’ responsibility to monitor fetal monitoring strips and vitals to determine if mother and baby are in distress. Failure to appropriately monitor can lead to a newborn having hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. It is a nurses’ responsibility to monitor blood pressure, oxygen, heart rate, and contractions for accelerations or decelerations.
- Practice groups – whenever a doctor or nurse commits medical malpractice or otherwise negligently harms an innocent baby, it could be due to the medical malpractice of the entire practice due too. That is the way Oregon law sees it. This is because an employer is vicariously liable for the actions of their employees caused within the scope of employment. This is better known as respondeat superior and is an important part of establishing liability against the defendants.
How Our Oregon Birth Injury Lawyers Can Help you
Our Oregon hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy medical malpractice lawyers understand the seriousness of errors resulting in HIE due to medical malpractice and are more than prepared to help you and your loved ones receive the compensation you deserve. Generally speaking, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy errors should rarely happen. With proper oversight and treatment, many cases of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy can be avoided.
If your child was a victim of HIE at the hands of medical professionals, our Oregon hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy medical malpractice lawyers encourage you to call our office today for free consultation. If your child suffered harm due to HIE, you may be entitled to compensation. Compensation for these types of errors include compensation for medical bills, lost wages of the parent or caregiver, lost future earnings, and pain and suffering amongst many other indications for damages.
Ask Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers For Help if a Baby Has Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy at Birth
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form. We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.
Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton, Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles, St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.
We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.