All About HIE: Definition and Causes
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), is a form of neonatal brain damage caused by insufficient flow of oxygenated blood (i.e. birth asphyxia). While all expectant parents hope for a safe birth and a healthy newborn, there is always potential for complications to arise. There are a variety of complications and medical errors that can lead to birth asphyxia and HIE and because labor and delivery can be a very complex process, there are many possible acts of medical malpractice that could lead to an HIE diagnosis. If a member of the medical staff behaved negligently and this caused permanent brain damage from oxygen deprivation, parents can pursue a lawsuit in order to obtain justice and secure the funds necessary for their child’s lifelong care.
The following are indications that malpractice may have occurred:
- Labor and delivery was exceptionally difficult
- Labor was prolonged or arrested
- C-section was needed, but was delayed
- Medical staff used vacuum extractors or forceps to deliver the baby
- Medical staff dismissed the parents’ concerns and/or did not obtain the mother’s informed consent before pursuing a certain course of action/intervention
Treatments and Therapies for HIE
There is currently only one treatment available that can minimize or prevent permanent brain damage from HIE; this treatment is called therapeutic hypothermia (also known as brain cooling or cooling therapy). Therapeutic hypothermia must be performed very shortly after birth/the oxygen-depriving event.
Exact guidelines vary based on the baby’s individual circumstances, but often this must be done within six to twelve hours of birth. The sooner it is administered, the more effective it is. Therapeutic hypothermia is the standard of care for HIE. This means that if a baby has HIE and they don’t receive brain cooling, the medical practitioners have committed malpractice by missing a crucial opportunity to help the baby’s brain heal.
In addition to therapeutic hypothermia, there are a variety of other treatments and therapies designed to help mitigate symptoms associated with HIE. For example, babies with HIE may require breathing support, seizure medications, or IV fluids. Additionally, it is absolutely critical that the baby receives early intervention care, which can include various therapies (occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy among them), and early education programs in order to ensure the best outcome possible for that child.
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. Call us for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will always keep your information completely confidential.