Has your child experienced birth asphyxia, or received a diagnosis of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)? An HIE diagnosis creates many questions for parents and many aren’t aware that these issues are often a consequence of medical malpractice. Here, we provide a broad overview of HIE, so that parents and loved ones can better understand what may have happened and explore their options.
What is HIE?
HIE is a type of brain injury caused by an insufficient flow of oxygenated blood to the brain. HIE has been estimated to occur in about 1.5 per 1,000 live births, and it is the cause for 23% of neonatal deaths worldwide. Survivors of HIE may later develop permanent conditions such as cerebral palsy (CP), epilepsy, and developmental and intellectual disabilities.
In many cases, birth asphyxia and HIE can be attributed to medical malpractice during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or the neonatal period.
HIE and Medical Malpractice
HIE can be caused by numerous factors, but it can be prevented. Doctors and other medical staff may not correctly follow standards of care and consequently make an error during pregnancy, birth, and/or delivery. If it were not for their error, the HIE may not have occurred.
Getting Legal Help in Georgia
Not only is a birth injury emotionally difficult for a parent, but the added financial costs for the care their child needs can be overwhelming. A birth injury lawsuit can obtain justice on behalf of your child. A lawsuit gives the chance to secure financial compensation and ensure they’re taken care of for the rest of their life. However, there is a time limit to file a lawsuit, known as a statute of limitations.
It’s important to speak with a birth injury attorney as soon as malpractice is suspected. The statute of limitations varies state-by-state and it can also vary depending on what kind of facility the malpractice or negligence occurred in. In Georgia, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a parental claim regarding a birth injury case. Claims filed on behalf of the injured child must be made by their 7th birthday.
Additionally, birth injury lawsuits can take years to litigate. It’s crucial to find an attorney that only handles birth injury. The complexity of the medical records and the law requires experience and the right network of experts.
Our unique focus on birth injury allows us to provide both knowledge on the complicated medical aspects of these cases and the compassion each family needs for their case. We know how difficult this time can be for your family, which is why we are here to answer your questions and help you secure care for your child.
Signs and Causes of HIE
It can be difficult to recognize if your child’s HIE diagnosis was due to malpractice. Additionally, it can look different based on each individual case. However, there are numerous risk factors for HIE.
Medical complications and errors that can cause HIE include, but are not limited to:
- Abnormal fetal position/presentation
- Anesthesia errors
- Delayed emergency c-section
- Fetal stroke
- Improper fetal monitoring
- Forceps and vacuum extractor injuries
- A high-risk pregnancy (e.g. one involving gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or obesity), especially if mismanaged
- Infections in newborns or maternal infections
- Intracranial hemorrhages (brain bleeds)
- Low birth weight (LBW)
- Meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS)
- Neonatal breathing mismanagement
- Oligohydramnios (low amniotic fluid) or polyhydramnios (excessive amniotic fluid)
- Placental complications
- Postterm pregnancy
- Premature rupture of membranes (PROM)
- Preterm birth
- Prolonged and arrested labor
- Umbilical cord issues
- Uterine tachysystole/hyperstimulation (often resulting from the misuse of contraction-enhancing drugs called Pitocin and Cytotec)
- Twins/multiples birth
- Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)
What can parents do if their child has been diagnosed with HIE?
The most important thing that parents or caregivers can do is to secure therapy (e.g. physical therapy, occupational therapy, and/or speech therapy) for their child at a very young age. The earlier a child gets therapy, the larger their functional gains could potentially be. The second step would be to speak with a birth injury attorney, because a birth injury verdict or settlement could help pay for the costs of the child’s care that aren’t covered by medical insurance.
About ABC Law Centers
Attorneys at ABC Law Centers focus solely on birth injury cases and have a network of renowned medical, economic and forensics experts at our side. Our attorneys are consistently recognized for their hard work in the birth injury arena and we have an extensive track record in providing services to families affected by birth injuries. We provide personalized attention to our clients and keep them informed throughout each step of the legal process.
We help secure parents’ peace of mind knowing their children will be well-cared for throughout their lives.