Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a brain injury that occurs when a baby doesn’t get enough oxygen at birth. Many risk factors and labor and delivery complications can cause a baby to become oxygen-deprived. It’s crucial that medical staff monitor the baby properly for any signs of distress. If medical staff do not address risk factors or complications in time, it could lead to HIE.
HIE and Medical Malpractice
HIE can be caused by numerous factors, but it can be a preventable injury. Unfortunately, an HIE diagnosis is commonly associated with medical malpractice. Doctors and other medical staff may not correctly follow standards of care and consequently make an error during pregnancy, birth, and/or delivery.
Getting Legal Help in Washington
Not only is a birth injury emotionally difficult for a parent, but the added financial costs from the additional care their child needs can be overwhelming. A birth injury lawsuit can obtain justice on behalf of your child and also secure the financial compensation they need to ensure they’re taken care of for the rest of their life. Unfortunately, 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, with some states leaving as little as two years from the date of the child’s injury to file a suit for them as a minor. The statute can also vary depending on what kind of facility the malpractice or negligence occurred in. In Washington, you currently have eight years from the date of malpractice to file a lawsuit. Please be aware that the Washington legislature and courts have been revisiting this issue on a regular basis, and the law (or interpretation of the law) may change. These changes may result in shortening or lengthening of the applicable time limitation.
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.
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Signs 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. We commonly find the following complications and conditions present in HIE cases:
- Signs of fetal distress
- Baby born floppy, unresponsive, and/or with bluish tint to the skin (low APGAR scores)
- Infant seizures
- Baby needs resuscitation
- Trouble feeding; not being able to latch, suck, or swallow
HIE may be noticeable when a newborn baby does not feed or has seizures, but in other cases, it may not be so apparent. Head imaging like MRIs or CT scans identify the extent and duration of the injury. Newborns suspected of HIE will usually need critical care in a neonatal intensive unit (NICU), specific treatment like head cooling (hypothermia therapy), and will typically have head imaging done.
About ABC Law Centers
ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.) exclusively handles birth injury cases. We have first-hand experience working with local counsel in Washington on birth injury cases involving HIE. Our unique focus means that we have a thorough knowledge of the complex medical aspects of birth trauma cases. Our firm has a network of renowned medical, economic and forensics experts at our side, and our attorneys have been consistently recognized for their work in birth injury. We do not charge any fees for the entire legal process unless we win.