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Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

newborn holding mother's handThe birth of a new child should me a momentous occasion for parents. However, unforeseen complications during delivery may result in a serious birth injury like hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or HIE. It may be the result of physical circumstances or complications beyond anyone’s control. But in the saddest of all cases, this type of brain damage may be attributed to human error when a healthcare provider made a poor or negligent decision when a better one could have prevented a terrible outcome.

The Long Island birth injury lawyers at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye support your right to seek justice and financial compensation in the wake of such a tragedy, and are dedicated to helping families seek fair restitution in the event of an HIE diagnosis.

What is HIE?

One of the most common types of brain damage in infants is hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE, occurring in 1 to 2 of every 1000 births. HIE is the number one cause of death or severe brain impairment in infants worldwide accounting for 23% of all infant fatalities. In the US, where there are approximately 4,000,000 babies born each year, that means about 4,000 to 8,000 cases of HIE yearly nationwide.

The effects of HIE include developmental delays, epilepsy, motor impairment, neurodevelopmental delay, and cognitive impairment. Cerebral palsy is often attributed to HIE, but studies have shown that 91% of cerebral palsy diagnoses are the result of premature birth or complications during or right after birth rather than oxygen deprivation. Ironically, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy most often occurs in full term infants.

Risk factors for HIE and brain damage

The leading risk factor for hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is oxygen deprivation, more formally known as fetal or neonatal or intrapartum asphyxia.

Fetal oxygen deprivation can be caused by a number of factors including:

  • Maternal hypotension
  • Cardiac complications
  • Poorly functioning lungs causing lack of oxygen in the blood
  • Umbilical cord difficulties
  • Impaired blood flow to the brain during birth
  • Labor and delivery stress
  • Uterine rupture
  • Intrapartum hemorrhage

HIE can also be caused by a fetal stroke which can result from a blockage in the flow of blood to the placenta, blood pressure abnormalities in the mother, immature or deformed blood vessels that may burst or rupture, or pelvic inflammatory disease or some other type of infection.

When medical negligence is suspected

If you feel that one or more of your delivery and labor room health care providers was remiss in any way and may have caused an injury to your newborn, a veteran birth injury lawyer at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye can review your case free of charge. Our team of investigators, researchers, and in-house medical experts can pinpoint the exact circumstances of the injury and who may have been responsible.

Diagnosing Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

There are three levels of HIE: mild, moderate, and severe. Medical staff must immediately be on the lookout for any visible signs of distress including organ dysfunction, particularly of the heart, lungs, kidney, and liver –any of which may be a sign of HIE. Seizures in the first 24 hours are also a sign of possible HIE.

If fetal brain damage is suspected, MRI’s and new technologies like diffusion weighted imaging and MR spectroscopy are valuable diagnostic tools to reveal whether HIE is present. If HIE is not diagnosed immediately, it may still surface over time with your child showing such symptoms as abnormal growth, poor motor function, cognitive impairment, or other developmental delays.

The unfortunate truth is that a child with a positive diagnosis of moderate to severe HIE faces a long road of physical and occupational therapy, medical treatment, and unremitting personal care from parents and caretakers alike. It will be an emotionally and financially draining experience that could have been avoided if a caregiver was in any way negligent in providing an acceptable standard of care to you and your newborn before, during, and right after birth.

These expenses may include:

  • Present and future medical bills
  • Physical, speech and occupational therapy
  • Accessibility modifications for the home
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Special schooling costs

The Daily News reports that in 2013, New York City hospitals paid a staggering $131 million for 262 medical malpractice settlements, many of these cases involving catastrophic birth injuries.

Do not hesitate to reach out to a NY birth injury lawyer at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye if your child has received a diagnosis of HIE. Negligence may not have played any role in the diagnosis, but you can rely on our expert legal team to ascertain if there was any liability on the part of the medical staff.

Liability issues surrounding an HIE diagnosis

All healthcare providers in New York and Long Island are bound by the state to provide an acceptable standard of care for patients. If you feel your doctors or nurses have not adhered to those standards during your prenatal and delivery room care, you have every right to seek legal redress against them.

Some actions (or inaction) which can be determined as medical negligence are:

  • Poor monitoring of the fetal heart rate
  • Delays in ordering a Cesarean section
  • Failure to diagnose complications such as umbilical cord entanglement or placental abruption
  • Delayed detection of abnormal fetal changes

Long Island birth injury lawyers

In this painful time, you do not have to feel that you have nowhere to turn. We at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye are dedicated to standing with you to fight for your right for just compensation if your infant has been injured by a negligent healthcare provider. Please keep in mind that there are statutes of limitation to file a birth injury lawsuit in Long Island and New York City, so seeking prompt legal assistance is imperative.

Edelman, Krasin & Jaye invite you to schedule a no-cost case evaluation with our attorneys by calling 800-469-7429. We accept birth injury cases on a contingency basis, meaning that you owe nothing unless we obtain a financial recovery.

  1. Modest Hypothermia for Term Infants with Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/519765
  2. RSNA, RadioGraphics, Neonatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy: Multimodality Imaging Findings http://pubs.rsna.org/doi/full/10.1148/rg.26si065504
  3. My Child, Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy, or HIE, also known as Intrapartum Asphyxia http://cerebralpalsy.org/about-cerebral-palsy/cause/hypoxic-ischemic-encephalopathy/