Hypoxia, Anoxia and Brain Damage at Birth
From the very earliest stages of pregnancy through to delivery, mothers and fathers place their trust in obstetricians, gynecologists, and other doctors and medical specialists to monitor the progress of a pregnancy and to ensure that their baby is born healthy. Though a wonderful part of life, pregnancy is fraught with risk, and it is the responsibility of doctors, hospitals and medical staff to carefully and properly monitor the health of the mother and her unborn child, and to be on the lookout for serious health risks that may cause birth injuries such as an “Erbs Palsy”. Among the most serious risks to an unborn child is a loss of access to oxygen – whether while in the womb, or during the actual birth process – known as “Hypoxia” or “Anoxia”, which can cause severe brain damage to an unborn child if undiagnosed and untreated, leaving the child permanently and severely disabled for life once born, and incurring astronomical medical bills and other costs for the child’s family. This condition is often referred to as Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, and refers to the death of brain tissue in an unborn or newborn child due to oxygen deprivation during gestation or at birth.
If your child, or that of a loved one, is born with hypoxic or anoxic brain damage, medical malpractice and medical negligence may be to blame. At the Jesse Minc Law Group, our Bronx medical malpractice attorneys and birth injury lawyers, working together with a network of expert birth injury medical professionals, will help you determine whether a serous birth injury involving hypoxic or anoxic brain damage was caused by medical malpractice. We will obtain the relevant medical records, and have the child examined by a physician to determine whether you have a claim against the doctors, hospital and other medical staff that were involved in the negligent treatment that caused a child to suffer a severe hypoxic brain injury during pregnancy or at birth. Contact us today at (718) 354-8000 for a free consultation to discuss your rights.What are the Most Common Causes of Hypoxic or Anoxic Birth Injuries and Brain Damage to a Child?
In the context of a Bronx medical malpractice lawsuit, the most common causes of hypoxic or anoxic brain damage to an unborn child generally involve failures to monitor the condition of the child while in the womb, failures to properly monitor the condition of the child during the delivery process, or improper management of the delivery process itself. Determining the cause of a child’s birth injury – both with respect to how and when the birth injury occurred – is perhaps the most important and difficult part of any brain injury medical malpractice case involving hypoxic or anoxic brain damage suffered by a child. Our Bronx medical malpractice lawyers have a track record of success in discovering these medical negligence errors, and holding negligent doctors, hospitals and medical staff to account if a child is born with a hypoxic or anoxic brain damage birth injury.
During gestation (the period of pregnancy after conception and prior to birth wherein the child is growing inside of the mother’s womb), certain events and environmental factors can cause the child to be deprived of oxygen, resulting in hypoxic or anoxic brain damage injuries. The most obvious and, sadly, common cause of gestational hypoxic or anoxic brain injuries involves mothers who smoke while pregnant, and there is generally no valid claim for medical malpractice if a child suffers hypoxic or anoxic brain damage for this reason.
However, during this period of pregnancy, other events such as an umbilical cord prolapse, umbilical cord occlusion or a placental infarction can occur. These conditions can cause the child’s supply of oxygen in the womb to be cut off, resulting in the death of brain tissue (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy) that can cause permanent and severe neurological impairment to the child. If undiagnosed and untreated in time, these conditions can lead to severe hypoxic or anoxic brain damage, or even death, for an unborn child. If you believe that a doctor failed to diagnose any of these conditions during your pregnancy, contact our Bronx medical malpractice attorneys today at (718) 354-8000 for a free consultation with a Bronx birth injury lawyer.
The vast majority of birth injury medical malpractice lawsuits involve failures to diagnose, manage and treat complications that occur during the process of delivering a child (i.e., during the birth itself). When a woman presents to a hospital to give birth, she and her baby are required to be intensely monitored by various medical tests to evaluate the health of the baby and the mother on an ongoing basis. The results of these tests, if properly performed and interpreted, can provide indications to the doctors regarding whether the child is at risk of suffering a birth injury, and can be used to avoid such devastating outcomes. These tests include cord gas testing, blood tests, and fetal heart rate monitoring.
For example, every woman will be fitted with a fetal heart monitor during the labor process after admission into the hospital, a device that monitors the heart rate of the baby and its responses to certain stimuli that indicate the general health of the baby during labor. Standards of care require that, upon receiving certain results on a fetal heart monitor test (these tests are read on “fetal heart monitoring strips”, which are computer print-outs that doctors interpret to understand the test results), doctors take certain immediate actions to protect the baby from suffering a birth injury (such as, for example, by performing an emergency Cesarean section operation to deliver the baby, rather than a vaginal birth). If a doctor misreads, or fails to monitor entirely, the results of fetal heart monitoring tests, clear signs of fetal distress – including those indicative of hypoxia or anoxia – can be missed, allowing a baby to suffer irreparable brain damage that could have been avoided had the doctor been more careful in monitoring the child’s condition.What Types of Damages are Available to Bronx Victims of Brain Damage Birth Injuries?
The types and amounts of damages available to victims of Bronx medical malpractice involving brain damage birth injuries will generally depend upon the condition of the child (i.e., the severity of the birth injury and the degree of permanency) after birth. Children who are born with severe hypoxic or anoxic brain damage (e.g., with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy) that results in permanent neurological impairment often require round-the-clock medical care, including in-home nursing care, frequent hospital visits and surgical intervention throughout the course of their life, the costs of which are fully compensable in a Bronx medical malpractice lawsuit and which can often reach eight-figure numbers over the life of the injured child. Our expert Bronx medical malpractice lawyers will hire experts to evaluate the injured child’s future medical needs, assemble a “Life Care Plan” to summarize the child’s future medical requirements and the costs of future care and treatment, and will hire an economist to calculate the full financial impact of past and future medical costs caused by medical malpractice during the birth process.
Also, depending on the severity of the brain injury, the child may be more or less aware of his or her impairment as he or she grows older. Damages for pain and suffering to compensate for this awareness are also available to a child who was the victim of a serious birth injury caused by medical malpractice, as well as for the ordeal of having to endure a lifetime of disability and constant painful and unpleasant medical intervention. In some cases, depending upon the background of the family, it can be claimed that the child has been deprived of future earning capacity, which is fully compensable if properly proven by an economist’s projections. For example, if the child’s parents are both college educated professionals, and have other children who went to college and earn a good living, it can be claimed that the injured child would have obtained earnings and benefits similar to those of his healthy siblings but for a serious birth injury; and the loss of these future earnings and benefits can be awarded as damages in a Bronx medical malpractice lawsuit.
Finally, the parents of a child who suffers a hypoxic or anoxic brain damage birth injury can recover for the “loss of services” of the injured child. This claim – which is personal to each of the parents, and derivative of the injured child’s medical malpractice claim – seeks compensation for the things that the injured child would have done for his or her parents during its lifetime but for being disabled due to a serious birth injury. Parents of children born with serious brain damage and neurological impairment can also recover for certain economic losses that they have endured in caring for their injured child.How Can I Prove that My Child’s Brain Damage Birth Injury Was Caused by Medical Malpractice?
Proving that a hypoxic or anoxic birth injury involving severe neurological impairment was caused by medical malpractice is extremely complicated and difficult. Even the best Bronx medical malpractice lawyers cannot do this alone, and require the assistance and counsel of medical professionals in the proper medical specialties to assemble a successful case. Our team has, over many years, developed a network of birth injury medical experts who can properly evaluate birth injury lawsuits and advocate for families who have been victimized by medical malpractice in the Bronx or elsewhere in New York City. Contact us today at (718) 354-8000 for a free consultation and to learn whether your birth injury lawsuit can be successful.