Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)

Kentucky Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy Attorneys

Legal help in Lexington and Louisville for HIE and perinatal asphyxia injuries

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) occurs when the brain is starved of oxygen or blood flow for a prolonged period. HIE most often occurs in newborns and is a type of brain dysfunction caused during pregnancy, labor, or delivery. This condition is also commonly referred to as perinatal asphyxia, birth asphyxia, or neonatal encephalopathy, and can be fatal. However, if medical professionals act promptly and appropriately, HIE can be prevented and controlled.

Unfortunately, doctors and medical staff can make critical errors that allow HIE to progress, sometimes causing irreparable or fatal injuries. At Wilt Injury Lawyers, we serve as the go-to firm for parents in Kentucky whose children experienced HIE as a result of medical malpractice. Our attorneys defended doctors and hospitals for 15 years, and have the resources and understanding to give you a fighting chance to secure the compensation to which you and your family are entitled. Contact our attorneys in Lexington or Louisville today.

What causes hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)?

Babies can suffer from HIE before, during, and after birth due to a variety of reasons, including:

  • Prolonged labor
  • Umbilical cord compression and other complications
  • Errors involving anesthesia
  • Uterine rupture
  • Trauma during delivery
  • Placental abruption

HIE can also occur during fetal development, and factors such as preeclampsia, blood flow complications, and drug or alcohol abuse can significantly increase the risk of its occurrence. Other factors, such as problematic umbilical cord location, low blood pressure, and excessive bleeding can cause oxygen starvation and must be addressed as quickly as possible to prevent irreversible damage.

All of these factors should be identified and discussed with your obstetrician after the results of your prenatal scans. If you suspect you’ve been provided with incorrect information, or a medical professional failed to identify something that caused lasting damage, you may be able to pursue a Kentucky medical malpractice lawsuit. Negligent behavior should never be tolerated among healthcare professionals, and if you’ve fallen victim to it, you deserve compensation for your and your child’s suffering.

The impact of HIE can vary wildly. While some children may only experience mild effects, others may be left with debilitating, lifelong conditions such as cerebral palsy, developmental delays, and epilepsy.

What are the signs and symptoms of HIE?

According to the University of California San Francisco, the symptoms of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy differ depending on the area of the brain affected, as well as the severity and extent of the injury. Babies born with HIE typically display the following signs:

  • Floppy and doesn’t react to visual and auditory stimuli. However, some infants with HIE may have tense bodies and overreact to stimuli.
  • Abnormal movements or seizures.
  • Weak mouth and throat muscles, leading to feeding and nursing problems.
  • Weak cries and vocalizations.
  • Signs of dysfunction in the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and blood.

Newborns who show any of these symptoms should be promptly evaluated by your Kentucky physician.

What is the treatment for hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)?

When professionals suspect HIE, a neurologist will typically use an MRI scan to examine your newborn for evidence of oxygen deprivation and any signs of brain dysfunction. These scans must be conducted as soon as possible to ensure prompt treatment.

Immediate treatment of HIE usually involves lowering the baby’s body temperature, a process known as brain cooling. Evidence suggests lowering the brain temperature a few degrees following a traumatic birth can reduce the extent of any brain injuries. After a cooling period of three days, the infant will slowly be re-warmed and monitored continually to assess the severity of the damage.

Tests for HIE also assess ‘APGAR’ criteria, which covers appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiratory effort. A medical professional can establish if your newborn’s assessment deviates from regular responses and how that deviation may suggest HIE has occurred. If your physician believes your newborn has suffered HIE and the circumstances don’t quite feel right to you, don’t hesitate to talk to an experienced Kentucky birth injury lawyer from Wilt Injury Lawyers at your first opportunity.

What is the outlook for Kentucky babies with HIE?

The long-term outlook for babies who experienced HIE often depends on the severity of the injury. Some babies may do quite well, while others may suffer from lasting complications. The Child Neurology Foundation lists the following potential long-term complications from HIE:

  • Developmental delay
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Intellectual disability
  • Seizures
  • Hearing and vision problems
  • Feeding issues
  • Mental health concerns
  • Contracture, a tightening of the muscles or other tissues
  • Spinal deformities
  • Sensory issues

Is HIE a preventable injury?

You may be able to file a HIE lawsuit against your physician if they did not adhere to an adequate standard of care. For example, they may have failed to identify HIE in a timely manner or prescribe the appropriate treatment. Key steps physicians can take to diagnose and control HIE include:

  • Ordering tests to identify HIE, such as MRIs, EKGs, EEGs and CT scans
  • Providing proper prenatal care
  • Monitoring the baby’s heart rate before, during and after birth
  • Observing the child’s physical characteristics

We can help you to take action against physicians who failed to follow proper protocols and allowed your baby’s condition to worsen.

Our Kentucky birth injury attorneys understand that establishing blame in an HIE lawsuit can be complicated. However, proving that it occurred due to medical malpractice can be significantly easier with the assistance of a lawyer with experience in the field. Our legal team thoroughly investigates the circumstances leading up to the diagnosis of HIE and gather any and all evidence available. If this evidence suggests medical malpractice came into play, then we can help you seek the compensation to which you and your family are entitled.

Do you have a hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) attorney near me?

Wilt Injury Lawyers has offices in Louisville and Lexington:

Louisville Office

13113 Eastpoint Park Blvd. Suite A
Louisville, KY 40223
Phone: 502-253-9110

Lexington Office

196 W. Lowry Lane, Suite 1
Lexington, KY 40503
Phone: 502-461-1481

If you are too injured or ill to travel to us, we can arrange a phone or video conference. We also make hospital visits when necessary.

Dedicated HIE lawyers serving families throughout Louisville and Lexington

If you have recently had a child who has suffered HIE at the hands of a negligent healthcare professional, contact the team at Wilt Injury Lawyers for a free consultation on how to proceed. Our Kentucky birth injury attorneys are happy to offer advice and guidance on your case and your best approach to pursuing it. You can contact our offices by phone at 502-253-9110 or fill out our contact form today to schedule a free consultation. We maintain offices in Lexington and Louisville, and proudly serve clients throughout Kentucky.