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Hypoxic Brain Damage Lawsuits

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Gault v. Norwood: 2nd largest medical malpractice verdict in history. Famous heart surgeon William Norwood performed an unauthorized surgical procedure on Stephen Gault, rendering him severely brain damaged and in permanent need of lifelong care. Norwood operated on a healthy baby's narrow aorta, but performed an unnecessary procedure, stopping the baby's heart and blood flow. Cooling the body too quickly caused irreversible brain damage, leaving the child unable to walk, talk, or care for himself. The $55 million verdict allowed Gault's family to provide him the care he needed.

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HIE Infant Brain Injuries

Representing Victims of Medical Negligence Leading to HIE Birth Injury

Families with infants suffering from birth injuries such as hypoxic brain damage face an overwhelming amount of questions and decisions, especially if the brain damage occurred due to the negligence of a medical professional.

Since 1958, The Beasley Firm has been dedicated to helping victims of negligence. Our Philadelphia birth injury lawyersย are seasoned experts in dealing with hospitals and their teams of lawyers. We ensure that the injured child and their family are well-taken care of in the years to come.

In fact, in one birth injury case involving an infant with severe brain damage, we were able to prove medical malpractice and obtain $13 million on behalf of the infant and family. We work with medical professionals who can lend crucial insight into cases such as these and help us provide the best representation possible for our clients.

In our 65+ years of practice, we have obtained over $2 billion on behalf of our clients. Call (215) 866-2424 for a free case evaluation.

What Is Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy?

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is a very serious newborn brain injury. HIE has also been called birth asphyxia, newborn brain injury, perinatal encephalopathy, or perinatal asphyxia.

HIE consists of three components:

  • Hypoxia: Lack of oxygen to organs or tissues
  • Ischemia: Restriction of blood flow/oxygen to tissue resulting in damage to tissue and organs
  • Encephalopathy: Brain injury

Simply defined, HIE is brain damage that occurred due to a restriction of blood and oxygen to the baby's brain. The longer the brain is deprived of vital oxygen, the more devastating the neurological outcome is for the baby.

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Birth Injury Risk Factors

During labor and delivery, there are certain conditions that could cause a lack of blood and oxygen to a baby's brain. All medical professionals involved in the birth need to look out for conditions such as the following that could greatly increase the risk of infant brain damage:

  • Eclampsia
  • High blood pressure
  • Ruptured uterus
  • High uterine pressures
  • Abdominal trauma
  • Placental abruption
  • Hyperstimulation of the uterus
  • Prolapsed/compressed umbilical cord
  • Maternal seizures

When a woman is in labor, a fetal monitor is used to not only monitor the mother's uterus and contractions, but also the baby's well-being. The fetal monitor strip or baby monitor shows a tracing that reflects the baby's heart rate and response or tolerance to the labor.

The obstetrician, nurse, nurse practitioner or nurse midwife needs to constantly monitor the fetal strips for any signs of fetal distress in the baby. The nurses that partner with our attorneys at The Beasley Firm have worked thousands of hours in the labor, delivery, and neonatal intensive care units. They are very skilled at reading and interpreting fetal monitor strips. Their experience greatly adds to our case investigation.

Hypoxic Brain Injury During Labor & Delivery

Unfortunately, hypoxic brain injuries are often caused by the negligence of another party, such as with labor and delivery mismanagement. For instance, if a baby is not properly monitored during delivery, the doctor might not recognize umbilical cord strangulation, which limits the amount of oxygen that reaches the babyโ€™s brain.

If an obstetrician recognizes fetal distress due to umbilical cord strangulation, they might opt to perform an emergency cesarean section to deliver the baby as soon as possible and reduce the pressure that is causing the lack of oxygen.

Unfortunately, if problems with the baby are not caught in time, there is not much that can be done to treat hypoxic brain injury. The most that can be done is to limit the amount of time the brain goes without oxygen in order to avoid serious injury.

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Brain Damage Consequences

Sadly, 15 to 20 percent of infants who develop HIE will die during childbirth or in the newborn period. Infants who suffered a hypoxic insult to the brain during labor and delivery will usually have low APGAR scores (scores that measure newborn health). Of the infants that survive a hypoxic ischemic event during delivery, at least 25 percent of them will have significant or catastrophic neurological damage.

HIE brain damage can cause the following:

  • Mental retardation
  • Seizures
  • Epilepsy
  • Inability to speak
  • Developmental delays
  • Inability to sit unassisted
  • Delays in reaching milestones
  • Learning disabilities
  • Inability to swallow
  • Inability to eat
  • Inability to control bowel movements
  • Inability to crawl or walk
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Vegetative state
  • Coma
  • Death

Like other brain injuries that can occur at birth, such as hydrocephalus brain injury, HIE can have serious medical consequences. Newborns who suffer from HIE may require ventilators, breathing tubes, tracheotomies, feeding tubes, wheelchairs, life-long medical procedures and treatments, and 24-hour total care.

Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Treatment Options

Until recently, the only treatment for infants born with HIE was to support the baby's heart rate, lungs, airway, and provide adequate nutrition either through a feeding tube or total parental nutrition (TPN). In recent years, brain cooling has been added to the treatment of HIE. It is believed that cooling the brain will not only help minimize the damage already done to the baby's injured brain, but also halt any additional brain damage.

Justice for Families Afflicted By Medical Negligence-Call (215) 866-2424

Our experienced birth injury lawyers in Philadelphia are well aware of the devastating effects of HIE. For over five decades, our medical and legal teams have successfully represented families, just like yours, whose lives have been forever changed by a brain injury.

When you work with us, we leave no stone unturned in our approach to your case and routinely report back to you with updates on the process. You can be confident that we will thoroughly investigate your birth injury case to develop a strong and compelling claim.

We operate on a contingency fee basis, so there is no reason to wait. Call The Beasley Firm today for a free consultation: (215) 866-2424.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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