Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), also known as perinatal or birth asphyxia, occurs when an infant suffers brain injury from a lack of oxygen. The condition is responsible for 23% of neonatal deaths around the world and requires immediate intervention. Infants can suffer mild, moderate, and severe forms of this phenomenon. Mild HIE usually only affects a child for a day or so and has a high rate of recovery. Moderate HIE may affect an infant for the first few weeks of life, but it also has a high rate of recovery. Severe HIE can threaten a newborn’s life or cause unpredictable outcomes that may not be visible for years. Many babies die from the condition, and some who survive may suffer brain injury symptoms for the rest of their lives.
Physicians are responsible for providing a reasonable standard of care to all of their patients. When they fail to do so and an asphyxiation related injury occurs, the physician or facility should be held liable for negligent actions. Timing is the key factor in many birth asphyxia cases. The longer a baby is left with an inadequate oxygen supply, the more devastating the consequences will be.
If a child has to be resuscitated at the time of birth, that is a clear sign that HIE has occurred. Low APGAR scores are another warning. Every newborn is given a rating for overall health. Low scores that occur for over five minutes at one time may point to HIE. Seizures, low muscle tone, coma or stupor, and high acid content in the blood are also indications of HIE. Confirmation of the condition may require numerous neuroimaging scans and blood tests, which may not be recommended in some cases until latent signs start to arise. Once a child has been diagnosed with HIE, he or she may require care in the NICU and treatments aimed at reducing further brain injury. Today, many physicians use hypothermia therapy to cool the brain to a certain level to reduce damage and allow brain cells to recover.
In the state of Pennsylvania, there is a two-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases. This is from the time the injury is discovered. Some cases of HIE may not be diagnosed until a child is a toddler or older, and even those may be eligible for legal action. If a physician’s negligent behavior is the cause of the injury, you have a right to seek justice on your newborn’s behalf. At Matzus Law, we understand how difficult recognizing a birth injury can be for parents and loved ones. All of our cases are reviewed by our certified Physician Assistant and Pittsburgh HIE lawyer, Jason Matzus and we consult with world-class HIE experts. This level of expertise, combined with investigative resources and independent medical specialists, allows us to provide our clients with an unprecedented level of legal care. If you or a loved one has discovered the signs of HIE or has a confirmed diagnosis, it may be worth your time to investigate the root cause and take legal action if a physician’s malpractice is to blame. We never accept payment unless we obtain compensation on your behalf, and we offer free case evaluations.
Protect your child’s future by contacting our Pittsburgh medical malpractice attorney today.
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