Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a type of brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation and limited blood flow to the brain, is often linked to birth injuries caused by negligent actions of a physician or medical professional during the neonatal period, pregnancy, or birth. HIE is a broad term that also includes birth asphyxia, perinatal asphyxia, and neonatal encephalopathy.
HIE Linked to Medical Malpractice
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a condition that often leads to serious health problems including cerebral palsy, seizures, cognitive disabilities, speech and language disorders, impaired vision and hearing, eating disorders, and orthopedic complications. Children diagnosed with HIE often require long-term medical treatments, physical and mental therapy, and support devices for mobility and everyday tasks. Early diagnosis of HIE is essential because it allows intervention with therapeutic hypothermia treatments which can prevent or minimize brain damage. However, many cases of HIE are first detected months or even years after birth when a child misses important developmental milestones.
Medical negligence is responsible for many cases of HIE. Common types of negligent actions linked to newborn HIE include:
- Failure to take sufficient precautions in high-risk pregnancies
- Mismanagement with fetal position problems
- Mismanagement with uterus, placenta, or umbilical cord problems
- Failure to respond to signs of fetal distress during delivery
- Errors in fetal heart rate monitoring
- Failure to administer hypothermia therapy to newborns with HIE
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
When HIE is caused by medical negligence, parents often hire a personal injury lawyer to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to obtain compensation for extensive medical expenses required for HIE treatments and help to secure future needs for the child.
In lawsuits involving HIE injuries, life care planning for the child is an important part of the case. In many cases, the monetary damages awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit can be placed in a trust that is dedicated to the child’s lifelong needs. If trusts are invested, they gain interest over time which allows the monetary award to grow. Trusts can also be set up as non-taxable forms of income, so money under governmental programs like Medicare and Medicaid is preserved. A personal injury lawyer can provide important information and guidance in establishing a medical trust for long-term expenses.