If your child was diagnosed with a hypoxic or anoxic brain injury in Michigan, you might be traumatized and overwhelmed. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a medical condition in which damage is caused to the brain due to lack of both oxygen and blood flow. Similarly, anoxic encephalopathy is classified medically as a birth injury wherein the infant fails to receive an ample quantity of glucose and oxygen to the brain, which causes damage.

Unfortunately, these types of brain injuries can be permanent and have lifelong effects on your child and the care needed over his or her lifetime. While some of these incidents happen due to an unforeseen complication, others are the result of a medical professional’s negligence. Therefore, reaching out to a lawyer to discuss your legal options and how you might be able to pursue compensation for your child’s losses and your financial strain might be essential to helping you and your child move on.

Causes of Anoxic Encephalopathy

While anoxic encephalopathy can arise from any number of circumstances, there are common causes for these brain injuries during birth in Michigan, which results in reduced oxygen supply. These include:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Hemorrhage, with circulatory collapse
  • Myocardial infraction (heart attack)
  • Suffocation (from strangulation, drowning, compression of the trachea)
  • Shock
  • Diseases that paralyze respiratory muscles

Doctors and nurses are highly trained to recognize the common symptoms of anoxic encephalopathy.  These include both symptoms before birth and at the time of delivery. If the condition is timely diagnosed, there are certain management measures that can be taken to minimize the injury or harm to the child. However, if a medical professional fails to notice these signs or properly treat their occurrence, they might be considered legally liable on the basis of malpractice.

Understanding Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy

There are two stages of a brain injury with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Stage one occurs immediately after the initial oxygen deprivation, while stage two occurs as normal oxygenated blood flow resumes to the brain. This is called “reperfusion injury” and occurs as toxins are released from the damaged cells. However, either of the two stages can result in permanent brain damage to the baby. Symptoms that are consistent with HIE include:

  • Low or absent heart rate
  • Slow, irregular, depressed, or absent breathing
  • Acidosis
  • Seizures
  • Stained meconium
  • Low muscle tone or “floppy”
  • Skin color is blue or very pale
  • Absent or depressed reflexes
  • Apgar score of less than three, lasting longer than five minutes

There are a number of potential causes of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy that result in reduced oxygen supply. This includes placental insufficiency, uterine rupture, placental abruption, true umbilical knots, cord compression, maternal blood clotting disorders, fetal maternal hemorrhage, extremely low maternal blood pressure, trauma during delivery, placental blood clots, shoulder dystocia, cord prolapse, aneurysm rupture, cardiac arrest, and near SIDS events. However, it is also important to understand medical negligence is a possible cause of either hypoxic or anoxic brain injuries in Michigan.

Treating HIE

There is no way to predict the long term effects on a baby with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. For babies with mild cases, there is a likelihood that the child can lead a normal life with proper treatment and therapy. In more severe cases, however, the child can experience developmental delays, epilepsy, cognitive issues, motor skill development delays, and neurodevelopment delays. As a result, the baby would most likely be followed by a pediatric neurologist and physical medicine and rehabilitation throughout infancy.

However, the long-term effects of HIE may not be predictable until the baby turns three or four years old. Once the child reaches those ages, physicians, social workers, and educators can begin a program to provide the best medical care and education for the child. Due to the severe and potentially life-long impacts of a hypoxic brain injury, a parent might wish to consult a lawyer in Michigan to discuss their legal options for pursuing a claim.

Pursuing a Claim

While some cases of hypoxic or anoxic brain injuries might seem unavoidable, the failure by a medical professional to timely diagnose and treat a newborn with these injuries might give rise to a birth injury lawsuit on the basis of malpractice.  To prove this type of case, however, it must be established that the child had an anoxic or hypoxic injury that was not timely diagnosed or treated—and, if it was properly treated,  the newborn would not have suffered any serious injury or harm.

When a mother presents a hospital with signs and symptoms of a difficult delivery or of a baby in distress, prompt action must be taken for the health and safety of both the mother and baby. For example, many times, an emergency c-section or other prompt medical care can prevent hypoxic or anoxic injury.

Proving this negligence often requires the consultation and opinion of medical experts, which could be sought out by a well-practiced lawyer at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. Essentially, an expert could review all medical records and fetal monitoring strips to help determine if negligence caused a condition.

Forms of Compensation Available

A lawsuit on the basis of malpractice for an anoxic or hypoxic brain injury might help to compensate both the child and family for the harm caused while they were under the negligent care of a medical professional. As such, a claim might request compensation for any number of economic and non-economic damages, including:

  • Past, current, and future medical expenses
  • Lifetime medical costs for rehabilitation, therapy, counseling, and specialized medical equipment
  • Specialized educational needs for the child
  • Home modifications and vehicle modifications
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages for the parents
  • Loss of enjoyment and companionship of the child

Essentially, the purpose of a lawsuit is to improve the lives of the child, parents, and family. Often, parents have great concern over how their child will be cared for when they are no longer able to do it themselves. Ideally, a settlement could provide funds to care for the child when the parents are no longer around or able to provide the necessary care, comfort, and housing themselves.

Call an Attorney for Help with a Michigan Hypoxic and Anoxic Brain Injury Claim

Any complications during childbirth can be traumatizing and overwhelming, especially when you have placed you and your infant’s safety in the hands of a negligent medical professional. If your child has suffered a hypoxic or anoxic brain injury in Michigan, you have legal options and might benefit from retaining a seasoned lawyer for help.

Because of the legal nuances of any malpractice claim, working with a dedicated attorney could help to clarify your legal standing and allow you to proceed in a way that is best for you and your family. To learn more, call a legal professional at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. today.

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