HIE Birth Injury Attorney in Pittsburgh, PA

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. Contact a skilled Pittsburgh birth injury attorney at Matzus Law, LLC today.

Common Causes of Failure to Diagnose Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Due to Medical Negligence

While not every case of HIE is due to medical malpractice, those that are may be caused by:

  • A failure to reasonably recognize the condition and take action
  • Accidents with the umbilical cord
  • Inadequately addressing problems with the placenta
  • The contraction of a hospital-caused infection, such as meningitis or sepsis
  • Head trauma during or after birth
  • Failure to perform diagnostic testing in the presence of HIE symptoms

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.

Discovering Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

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.

Injured and Have Questions?

We Represent Families Affected By HIE Injuries

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, LLC, 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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

What is Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy?

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, also referred to as HIE, is a type of injury that newborn babies can suffer that results in brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation and limited blood flow to the brain. HIE is a type of birth injury that can be prevented. HIE is also referred to birth asphyxia, perinatal asphyxia or neonatal encephalopathy.

HIE may not be immediately apparent after birth and the full extent of brain damage from HIE may not be discovered until a child experiences developmental delays. For example, if a child struggles to meet certain milestones, such as crawling or walking, further evaluation at that time may lead to a diagnosis of HIE.

Is there a cure for HIE?

Tragically, once there is permanent brain damage from HIE, there is no cure. While there are certain treatments and therapies that can help to improve the child’s symptoms and function, if a child has been diagnosed with HIE it is a permanent, incurable condition.

What are the causes of HIE?

While HIE can be caused by a variety of medical complications, in a number of situations, medical malpractice is the root cause of HIE. Some common types of medical malpractice that cause HIE occur when doctors fail to properly monitor the health of the mom and baby to identify potential issues and treat them proactively. Or, doctors may fail to recognize certain warning signs or problems that occur or fail to take them seriously to intervene.

Medical malpractice that results in HIE can occur as a result of any of the following:

1. Mismanagement of a high-risk pregnancy
2. Umbilical cord complications
3. Placenta or uterine complications
4. Infections
5. Improper fetal heart monitoring
6. Prolonged labor

What should I do if my child was diagnosed with HIE?

If your baby has been diagnosed with HIE, please contact my law firm. We will investigate the situation to determine if medical malpractice caused your baby’s HIE and whether it could have been prevented.