The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Garau Germano Hanley and Pennington, P.C. frequently handle cases involving brain injury sustained at birth as a result of the malpractice of a doctor or other health care provider. The injuries sustained in these cases are often devastating, and the cases present significant challenges that require the expertise of an experienced malpractice attorney.
Injuries at birth often result from the brain not receiving adequate oxygen during the delivery process. This oxygen deprivation can result in a condition known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy at birth is characterized by profound metabolic acidosis, seizures, low Apgar scores persisting for more than five minutes after birth, and the involvement of other organs such as the kidneys, lungs or heart.
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy can range from mild to severe. In the most severe cases, the brain damage will ultimately result in the child’s death while still an infant. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is also one of the most common causes of cerebral palsy in children. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that permanently affects muscle coordination and body movement.
Brain injuries at birth can occur when the doctor or other healthcare providers fail to heed warning signs on the fetal heart monitor. The fetal heart monitor records the heart rate of both the mother and the baby and allows the healthcare provider to see how the baby responds to the mother’s contractions and other stresses of labor. The monitor can let the doctor know if the baby is experiencing oxygen deprivation, allowing the doctor to take steps to hasten the delivery and prevent permanent damage.
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy may also occur with a delivery that is complicated by shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia occurs when the baby’s head delivers, but the shoulders become stuck in the birth canal. At this point, the supply of oxygen to the baby’s brain is impeded or cut off. Unless the shoulder dystocia is promptly and correctly resolved, brain damage may result.
Not all brain injuries at birth are the result of malpractice. However, there are many instances where these injuries can and should be prevented if healthcare providers use appropriate medical care.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney can assist you if you believe that you or a loved one has been injured as a result of malpractice.