Washington DC Birth Injury Attorneys Helping Victims of Medical Malpractice
The birth injury attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have helped many families in the Washington DC area affected by hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). We are a nationally recognized birth injury firm that ranks among the best in the country. Over the years, we have earned a reputation for compassionate yet aggressive legal help. Our lawyers have the expert knowledge necessary to assess the causes of HIE and will take appropriate action if negligence played a role. Email or call today for a free consultation, 888-419-2229.
Washington DC HIE Attorneys Discuss Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), commonly known as birth asphyxia, is a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the baby’s brain at or near the time of birth that results in brain damage. Roughly 25% of those that survive have significant long-term neurodevelopmental impairments.
Critical cells throughout the body require oxygen to survive, especially brain cells. If the brain does not receive proper oxygenation, the cells will die. This lack of oxygen and subsequent cell death (brain damage) can result in mental and physical disabilities such as intellectual and developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, seizures, and cerebral palsy. The extent and seriousness of the damage depends on the length of time that the baby was without oxygen. Usually, the longer a baby goes without oxygen, the more severe the damage. Significant brain damage can occur in as little as 5 minutes.
The Causes of HIE
There are many situations during labor and delivery that if physicians and hospital staff do not promptly treat them, can cause HIE. These include:
- Umbilical cord injuries such as the cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck (nuchal cord), the cord preceding the fetus out of the uterus and becoming compressed (prolapsed cord), umbilical compression due to hyperstimulation (excessive uterine activity).
- Problems with the placenta or uterus such as placenta previa, placental abruption, and placental insufficiency.
- Tachysistole (excessively frequent uterine contractions).
- Premature birth.
- Medication errors (eg: Pitocin, Cytotec).
- Complications related to the baby’s size or position such as breech or cephalopelvic disproportion (baby’s head is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis).
- Elevated fetal heart resting tone in between contractions or fetal monitoring errors.
- Trauma to or hemorrhages in the baby’s brain during delivery.
- Delayed delivery of the baby, delayed emergency C-section.
- Untreated high blood pressure (preeclampsia), infection or other medical conditions in the mother .
Signs and Symptoms of Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
Signs and symptoms of HIE at birth may include the following:
- Resuscitation of the newborn at birth.
- Low APGAR Scores for longer than 5 minutes. An APGAR score assesses the overall health of a newborn over the first few minutes of life. It assigns scores to things like the baby’s skin color / complexion, pulse rate, reflexes, muscle tone, and breathing.
- Seizures within the first two days of birth.
- Difficulty feeding.
- Profound metabolic or mixed acidemia in an umbilical artery blood sample (the baby’s blood is acidic/has a low ph.).
- Hypotonia (low muscle tone).
- Abnormal limpness.
- Multiple organ problems (e.g., involvement of the lungs, liver, heart, intestines).
- No brain stem reflexes (e.g., breathing problems and an abnormal response to light, and only blood pressure and heart function reflexes are functioning).
Diagnosis of HIE
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is confirmed through various kinds of tests and brain imaging studies like MRIs, CT scans, PET scans, ultrasounds, blood glucose tests, arterial blood gas tests, and EEGs. In order to perform these tests, doctors must first suspect hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy. If birth was traumatic or the newborn is exhibiting any of the signs and symptoms above, testing is likely performed.
Treatment for HIE
Traditionally, treatment of HIE has been supportive care targeted at limiting brain damage and further injury. Specifically, this meant treatments like NICU care, ventilation, seizure management, maintaining blood glucose and pressure, minimizing brain swelling, and receiving care from specialty physicians.
Recently, however, a new therapy called brain cooling or hypothermia has been introduced specifically for HIE. It improves the outcome of babies with HIE by reducing the severity of brain injury. The treatment consists of lowering a newborn’s body temperature to around 91 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of about 72 hours. Lowering the baby’s temperature slows the metabolic rate allowing cell recovery over a longer period of time. This avoids further damage that can occur if normal oxygenation or blood flow is restored too quickly to injured cells.
Legal Help for HIE and Birth Injuries in Washington, DC
The experienced Washington DC HIE attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have decades of experience handling birth injury and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) cases. In fact, we are one of the only law firms in the country that specifically and exclusively handles birth injury cases. Many of our medical malpractice cases involve birth asphyxia, infant brain damage, cerebral palsy, nuchal cord injuries, intracranial hemorrhages, birth trauma, and more. You may read more about our previous multi-million dollar birth injury cases in our Verdicts & Settlements section.
If your child was diagnosed with HIE or another permanent birth injury, call our Washington DC birth injury attorneys. Our birth injury attorneys will provide you with a free case review in order to answer your questions and inform you of your legal options. Should we take your case, you will not be charged until we win or settle in your favor.
You may contact our Washington DC HIE attorneys in whichever way best suits you:
- Call our offices toll-free at 888-419-2229
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