What is HIE?
Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is a neurological injury to newborns often caused by medical negligence during a mother’s pregnancy and labor or her baby’s delivery. HIE injury results from asphyxia, or lack of oxygen, to a baby’s brain and leads to as many as 23% of neonatal deaths worldwide. HIE can damage not only a child’s brain, but other organs, as well, including the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Can HIE be caused by medical negligence during delivery?
When a labor or childbirth complication results in a reduction of blood-flow (and, therefore, oxygen) to the baby’s brain, timely and competent medical care is necessary to prevent HIE. Such complications include, among others, umbilical-cord compression, uterine rupture, breech birth, and failure to perform a C-section after signs of fetal distress from oxygen deprivation. If medical personnel neglects to adequately monitor the fetus or deliver the baby quickly enough after asphyxia is detected, you and your family may be able to recover damages for injuries suffered by your baby as a result of medical malpractice.
How do you know if your baby suffers from HIE?
Symptoms will vary with the severity of HIE, which may be affected by the amount and length of oxygen deprivation during delivery. Mild HIE may be evidenced by excessive irritability and feeding problems and can eventually resolve itself. Moderate HIE may be characterized by apnea (pauses in breathing) and seizures, as well as sluggish reflexes. Infants with severe HIE, the effects of which may last a lifetime, may exhibit seizures, reflex and breathing difficulties, cognitive impairment, heartbeat and blood pressure irregularities, coma, dysfunction of kidneys, liver, and blood, and cardio-respiratory failure. Cerebral Palsy (CP), a serious injury resulting from damage to areas of the brain that affect muscle coordination and body-movement control, can also result from HIE. The full extent of your child’s injuries may not be apparent until your child reaches 3 or 4 years of age.
What should you do if you suspect your child’s HIE is due to medical negligence?
Child- and birth-injury lawyer Jeffrey Killino has extensive experience with HIE and other birth-trauma injuries and will do everything possible to ensure that you are fully compensated by those responsible for your child’s condition. Under civil tort law, medical negligence occurs when medical care is below the “standard of care” required by law. The testimony of medical experts will be relied upon to show both that your child suffers from HIE and that medical care that failed to meet the standard required by law was a cause of your child’s HIE.
Expert testimony will also be used to establish the money damages to which you are entitled. Evidence of required treatment, such as physical and occupational therapy, surgeries and medications, and in some cases, institutionalization, will be presented. Loss of lifetime earnings will be established.
Though these money damages can never truly compensate you or your child for injuries suffered as a result of medical malpractice, they can go a long way toward helping your child deal with a lifetime of physical and emotional trauma that could have been prevented by proper medical care.