The fact that hypoxic encephalopathy is a rare birth injury doesn’t make it any less devastating. Like all serious birth injuries, it can bring long-term misery to new parents and their extended families. The accomplished birth injury attorneys at Cooper Schall & Levy in Philadelphia are determined to hold obstetricians accountable when their miscalculations, inexperience, carelessness or ineptitude turn the joyful event of birth into a nightmare.
If you have a baby or young child who suffers as a result of hypoxic encephalopathy or if you have tragically lost a newborn to this birth injury, contact our experienced legal team as soon as you are able to find out what your options are.
We have the ability to contact obstetrical and birth injury medical experts to obtain corroborating evidence. If appropriate, we will file a well-conceived medical malpractice lawsuit and fight aggressively to win you the damages you and your loved ones need and deserve. Our birth injury attorneys are caring as well as capable and will provide you with emotional support in addition to outstanding legal representation. We have a strong track record of successful outcomes, both in and out of the courtroom.
Causes of Hypoxic Encephalopathy
Hypoxic encephalopathy occurs when an infant’s brain is deprived of oxygen before, during, or after the birth process. In spite of the fact that it occurs in only 4 births in 1,000), it is the most common cause of infant brain damage.
In recent years, the prognosis for babies with the condition has improved, but only if there is immediate medical intervention. This is why the steps taken by the obstetrician during the critical moments during or just after birth can mean the difference between life and death or between a healthy life or one marred by irreversible disability.
Symptoms of Hypoxic Encephalopathy
Your obstetrician should be alert to the early signs of the condition in infants so that she/he can take the urgent actions necessary to save the day. These signs include:
- Pallor or worse bluish skin tone
- Low heart rate
- Weak breathing
- Reflex irritability (grimace)
- Poor muscle tone
- Inability to nurse
- Abnormal response to light
- Seizures 48 hours after birth
- Fetal stool in the amniotic fluid
- Inability to inhale sufficient oxygen
During or before the birth, or even during the mother’s pregnancy, the obstetrician should be aware of risk factors in the mother:
- Diagnosis of pelvic inflammatory or cardiac disease
- Evidence of drug or alcohol abuse
- Abnormal contraction pattern
- Vaginal bleeding
- Abnormally high or low weight gain
- High blood pressure
The obstetrician should be aware of the following risk factors in the partially born fetus:
- Very low blood pressure
- Prolonged labor and delivery
- Rupture of the placenta
- Compressed umbilical cord
Your doctor is likely to be guilty of medical negligence if he/she failed to:
- Recognize signs of possible trouble ahead in the mother
- Recognize signs of oxygen deprivation in the fetus or infant
- Administer prompt diagnostic testing and emergency treatment.
Obstetricians are well-trained to understand the characteristics of high-risk pregnancies and high-risk births and should be prepared to handle any of the above-mentioned issues. Medical malpractice can sometimes be proven when medical professionals fail to notice signs of fetal distress quickly enough to take action to stabilize the situation.
Urgent Treatments for Hypoxic Encephalopathy
As mentioned earlier, quick intervention is critical to preventing infant death and/or mitigating brain damage. Possible treatments of the baby include:
- Intrauterine resuscitation
- Ventilation of the infant
- Managing the infant’s blood pressure
- Maintenance of appropriate blood glucose levels
- Medications or general anesthesia to control seizures
- Hyperthermia treatments
- Performance of a Cesarean section
If your doctor missed the signs of danger or did not take the urgent steps necessary to combat them, our birth injury lawyers may be able to win you the substantial damages.
In Minutes Everything Can Change
It only takes a few minutes of oxygen deprivation for a newborn’s brain to be negatively impacted. In that brief period, the infant may incur brain damage or may die. Whether you are suffering the unbearable pain of losing your child or are trying to come to terms with how you will cope with the medical, emotional, and financial challenges of raising a brain-damaged child, our sympathetic birth injury attorneys are here to help.
Time also plays a part in your medical malpractice lawsuit since Pennsylvania law has a 2-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. Even so, exceptions may be made if the damage caused by the birth injury manifests or is diagnosed later in your child’s life when one or more of the following symptoms become evident:
- Delayed growth and other developmental milestones
- Hearing and/or visual impairments
- Impaired motor function
- Seizure disorder
As your birth injury law team, Cooper Schall & Levy knows which tactics are likely to work to prove that you could only be reasonably expected to perceive or investigate the origins of your child’s disability after the 2-year limit expired.
Contact Our Experienced Birth Injury Attorney Now
If your child has suffered brain damage as a result of hypoxic encephalopathy, or if you have tragically lost an infant to this injury, you need more than medical evaluation by neonatal specialists; you need the legal advocacy our birth injury attorneys can provide. Because we understand the economic impact as well as the physical and emotional pain of your child’s birth injury, we will charge you no fee for your initial consultation nor for any of the work we do on your behalf until we win you damages. Contact our office today for an initial consultation.
Cooper Schall & Levy medical malpractice lawyers serve Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as well as neighboring counties such as Montgomery County and Delaware County and cover neighborhoods such as Norristown and Drexel Hill.