Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy HIE Due to Medical Malpractice: What Are Your Legal Options

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What is Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy and How Can HIE Due to Medical Malpractice Harm Your Baby

Unfortunately, the birth of a child can be overshadowed by complications that can occur. Sometimes, complications are unforeseeable and unpreventable, while other complications are anticipated based on certain known risk factors or medical problems that the mother or baby may have. There are times however, when an otherwise healthy baby and mother may experience catastrophic consequences due to a medical provider’s error during the labor and delivery. When this happens, it is referred to as medical malpractice. One example of a catastrophic complication that can occur due to a medical provider’s error is hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).  HIE due to medical malpractice can result in liability against all defendants who may have caused it to your loved one.

What is Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy? 

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is a catastrophic type of brain damage that most often occurs during labor and delivery. The brain damage is caused by a loss of oxygen (hypoxia) and a loss of or lack of blood flow to the brain, which is known as ischemia.This type of birth injury is quite catastrophic and often can result in severe disabilities. Babies with suspected HIE should be treated immediately with cooling therapy to limit the cell death occurring in the brain as well as prevent additional brain damage from occurring. Oftentimes however, babies with HIE will suffer some degree of deficits from the brain injury. This is usually when HIE due to medical malpractice occurs.

What are the Causes of HIE?

There are a number of causes of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. While as mentioned previously, not all cases of HIE are due to medical malpractice, often times HIE is the result of a medical provider failing to either diagnose a complication that can lead to HIE, or can be due to a medical provider failing to respond appropriately to a complication that is occurring. Examples of causes of HIE include the following:

  • Placental abruption
  • Uterine rupture
  • Umbilical cord compression
  • Umbilical cord prolapse
  • Placental insufficiency
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Aneurysm rupture
  • Umbilical cord knots
  • Delivery trauma
  • Shoulder dystocia

HIE Due to Medical Malpractice

HIE can be caused by medical malpractice in a number of ways. One mistake can result in HIE, leading to catastrophic disabilities that a parent and child may have to deal with forever. Common mistakes leading to HIE include the following:

  • Failing to perform a c-section when appropriate (i..e high risk for shoulder dystocia, baby that is transverse or breech, baby that is exceptionally large (macrosomia), cephalopelvic disproportion)
  • Failure to appropriately monitor fetal heart rate, leading to missing signs of distress
  • Failure to respond appropriately to signs of distress
  • Failure to take appropriate precautions for a high-risk pregnancy
  • Failure to appropriately manage issues with the umbilical cord, uterus or placenta
  • Failure to provide hypothermia therapy in a timely manner to a newborn with suspected or confirmed hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy 
  • Failure to perform an emergency c-section if indicated

How to Pursue a HIE Birth Injury Lawsuit

A medical provider may not be forthcoming about the cause of your child’s HIE, even if they know it could have been preventable. This is because they are at risk for a lawsuit. The medical provider may claim that the birth injury was unpreventable, or perhaps was due to a problem that happened prior to labor and delivery. However, HIE is often the result of medical malpractice, which is why it is always a wise idea to see legal council. I

If you believe that your child’s HIE was preventable, or are even not sure of the cause, it is wise to reach out for a FREE consultation in which it can be determined if medical malpractice may have played a part in your child’s medical malpractice. While it may be a concern of parents that seeking legal action is too timely and will take time away from spending with their child, this is truly not the case. 

You and your child’s legal team does the bulk of the work, with meetings dispersed at your convenience. The bottom line is that if your child was diagnosed with HIE, they may have a great deal of future needs, meaning that they could greatly benefit from compensation gained as a result of the injury sustained.

How Can a Settlement Help My Child?

It is often not apparent immediately at birth the degree of brain damage your child has due to medical malpractice. As they get older, the needs will become more and more apparent. A settlement can greatly help you provide the care that your child may needs, as they will likely have many medical bills, special care needs, special educational needs, or the need for assistive devices such as a wheelchair or walker as well as many other needs that your child may need for their lifetime. Often, the settlement is put into a trust that will provide your child monetary coverage for any needs they will have as a result of the injury sustained at birth. 

Working With a Life Care Planner

If it is determined that your child’s HIE diagnosis was due to medical malpractice, our attorneys will work with a life care planner to understand the type of care that your child will likely need for their lifetime. Life care planners are able to calculate the cost of these needs, including the anticipated costs in the future. This is beneficial as it allows families to understand the needs their child will likely have, as well as helping to build a case. With these two things combined, it allows your child to receive the proper settlement amount that will assist them for their lifelong care. 

When Can and Should a Birth Injury Lawsuit be Filed?

It is important for parents to understand that there is not an infinite amount of time for birth injury lawsuits to be filed. In each state, there is something called a statute of limitations which has specific guidelines for how long a person has to file a suit. If the person waits beyond the time specified in the statute of limitations, they will be unable to file a suit even if medical malpractice was the cause of the injury. Therefore, it is vital for parents to act in a timely manner to ensure your child has what they need for their lifetime. 

Was HIE Due to Medical Malpractice the Likely Cause of Your Baby’s Injuries?  Call Us

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.

For a free case evaluation


(541) 385-1999 in Bend, Oregon
(503) 479-3646 in Portland, Oregon
(612) 444-3374 in Minnesota

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