Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy Lawyers

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Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy Lawyer

For parents whose children have been diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy due to a birth injury, there are likely many questions about whether a lawsuit is right for you. In such situations, families exploring their legal options can benefit greatly from speaking to a hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy lawyer.

A hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy lawyer has extensive knowledge about patient rights, the long-term costs of caring for a child with a brain injury, and how a lawsuit may be able to provide valuable compensation.

As one of California’s top medical malpractice law firms, the attorneys at Hodes Milman have been helping parents secure better futures for their children in birth injury lawsuits for over 30 years. We help families whose children have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, and other complications due to medical errors.

If your child has suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy by a preventable birth injury, you may qualify to seek compensation for help with medical costs and securing a better quality of life for your child. Contact the hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy lawyers at Hodes Milman for a free, private phone call to discuss your family’s options at (949) 640-8222.

What is hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)?

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a type of brain injury in infants that can occur anytime before, during, or immediately following birth. It is caused by a lack of blood flow or oxygen to the brain. A breakdown of each term helps explain its meaning:

  • Hypoxic: Lack of oxygen
  • Ischemic: Lack of blood flow
  • Encephalopathy: Brain disorder

HIE is also referred to as perinatal asphyxia, intrapartum asphyxia, and birth asphyxia. Asphyxia describes an oxygen loss to the brain. In certain cases, the duration of oxygen loss is brief enough for the baby to recover without long term effects. However, the longer a child’s brain endures oxygen loss, the more severe the impairments might be, even affecting other organs or causing death.

A baby boy plays with stacking rings. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy can impair cognitive development.

Because HIE directly compromises brain function, it can lead to several other complications that impact cognitive development. Infants diagnosed with HIE may also be diagnosed with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, permanent disability, or periventricular leukomalacia (white matter damage in the fluid-filled brain ventricles) in premature babies. 

Along with the length of time a child experiences asphyxia, another factor that will determine what kind of symptoms a child shows is which area of the brain is affected. In infants, the white matter of the brain is often affected. In older children and adults, gray brain matter is often affected by HIE.

How does hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy show in adults?

Although it is largely diagnosed in infants, adults, and children can develop HIE by sustaining injuries or diseases that interfere with the brain’s oxygen supply as a birth injury does. HIE in adults and children is referred to as global hypoxic-ischemic injury.

These injuries include:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Near-drowning 
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Drug overdose
  • Stroke 
  • Head trauma

The prognosis for someone who was diagnosed with HIE as an infant is mostly dependent upon the extent of the brain damage involved. Mild cases of HIE tend to have a good survival rate with temporary symptoms, whereas moderate or severe cases can have a mortality rate of up to 50%, according to MedScape.

What are hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy symptoms?

Closeup image of a heart rate monitor attached to a newborn's foot. Low apgar scores at birth may be a symptom of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy in infants.

Symptoms will vary based on how long an infant’s brain was deprived of oxygen and which part of the brain was affected. The effects can be mild and temporary, to severe and permanent. 

Obstetricians and doctors are instructed to screen expectant mothers and babies for signs and symptoms of HIE during pregnancy, delivery, and the postnatal period. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy will have different symptoms based on these stages.

Perinatal HIE symptoms can include:

  • Low heart rate
  • Meconium stained amniotic fluid (meconium is the baby’s first stool)
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Acidosis 
  • Irregular breathing
  • Low fetal movement
  • Preeclampsia
  • Other signs of fetal distress

HIE directly following birth (neonatal HIE) can include symptoms such as:

  • Apgar scores below 3 lasting five minutes or longer, which assess a newborn’s health
  • Hypersensitivity or delayed responses
  • Low heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Organ damage
  • Poor muscle tone

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy later in a child’s life can show as:

  • Developmental delays
  • Visual or hearing impairments
  • Motor function impairments
  • Epilepsy

When doctors fail to act on symptoms of HIE at any stage, it is deemed medical negligence or malpractice. Time is critical in identifying hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and when healthcare providers fail to act in precious moments to remedy asphyxia, the consequences can be serious for a child, at times resulting in the need for round-the-clock care.

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy causes

A pregnant woman receives an ultrasound by her OBGYN. If a baby's HIE was preventable or due to poor oversight by a medical professional, it may be grounds to speak with an hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy lawyer.

In certain situations, HIE isn’t preventable. However, in too many cases, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy arises from substandard care by medical professionals. As soon as a woman becomes pregnant, her OBGYN must begin monitoring her and her baby’s health and watching for key indicators of complications.

Most HIE is the result of events that occur before a baby is born, a study by The Journal of Pediatrics shows. This makes it imperative that healthcare staff is vigilant to observe any potential signs of HIE during pregnancy.

Risk factors for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy include:

  • Preeclampsia
  • Diabetes 
  • High-risk pregnancy
  • Low blood pressure
  • Umbilical cord problems
  • Obesity
  • Multiple births (twins, triplets)
  • Placenta complications
  • Fetal infections
  • Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS), when a baby breathes meconium from a stool passed in the womb 
  • Traumatic vaginal birth
  • Misuse of forceps or vacuum
  • Labor inducing drugs such as Pitocin or Cytotec

Doctors must not only provide regular checkups during pregnancy, they must also act upon any sign of HIE immediately to prevent serious injury or worse. When a medical professional fails to comply with the accepted standards of care, he or she may be held liable for negligence.

Medical professionals who can be found responsible — whether directly or indirectly — for a birth injury include:

  • Doctors
  • Hospital staff
  • Hospitals
  • Midwives
  • Nurses
  • Anesthesiologists
  • Pharmaceutical companies

Speaking to an HIE lawyer will help clarify whether hospital or doctor negligence played a role in your child’s injury.

Speak to a Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy Lawyer

We understand it can be difficult to know if your child’s hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy was due to a medical error. The hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy lawyers at Hodes Milman are here to answer your questions for free in a private, no-obligation phone call.

Compensation from a birth injury lawsuit could provide considerable relief with costs such as:

  • Comprehensive care for your child to improve health, comfort and quality of life
  • In-home assistance for a more balanced family life
  • Lost wages in order to care for your special needs child
  • Counseling and support for whole families, including marriage support
  • Financial advising to assist you with effective planning and budgeting
  • Wheelchair accessible vehicles

If you have questions about whether or not a hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy lawyer can help your family, please reach out to our caring staff for a complimentary legal consultation at (949) 640-8222 today. Your call is 100% confidential.

Notable Medical Malpractice Settlements

$1,500,000 Settlement | ER Induces Birth, Causing Trauma to BabyA mentally impaired woman who did not know she was pregnant entered urgent care with complaints of menstrual bleeding, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting. The emergency room failed to follow its own procedures and induced birth with medication. The child suffered from severe respiratory distress and asphyxia.

$4.3 Million Settlement | Doctor’s Misprogramming Leads to Brain InjuryA case resolved following mediation for a young man who suffered oxygen deprivation leading to severe brain damage after a physician misprogrammed his cardiac defibrillator. The man, now 30-years-old, cannot speak and will need around-the-clock assistance for the rest of his life. Daniel Hodes of Hodes Milman and Ken Sigelman of the Law Offices of Kenneth M. Sigelman represented the man and his family.

$2,500,000 Settlement | Premature Triplets Die & Suffer Brain Injury Due to Lack of ProtocolA 30-year old woman, pregnant with triplets, was admitted to the NICU due to pregnancy complications stemming from in-vitro fertilization. After an extremely premature birth, all three infants contracted infections due to the staff’s failure to observe proper hospital protocol, resulting in death for two of the triplets and severe brain damage for one.

Families We Have Helped

“Dan Hodes treated me like a human being, not just another client. He showed me he cared by how hard he worked on my case.”
– Dalia P.

There are human dynamics and complicated relationships in life that require the best attorneys to take a more intellectual and holistic approach to case evaluation. Fortunately, we found that Mr. Hodes fits that bill. I would definitely highly recommend Daniel Hodes to anyone looking for a Southern California injury attorney.”
– M.L.R.

It was an absolute pleasure to have Dan Hodes and Jacob Brender represent my husband and me in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Their knowledge and expertise were always on point. I highly recommend this firm. Thanks again, gentlemen.
– Rita G.

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