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Did your child suffer from HIE after birth? Has your child been diagnosed with any type of brain injury?

A Hawaii HIE lawyer at Davis Levin Livingston can talk to you about the circumstances surrounding your child’s birth and whether malpractice may be to blame. If substandard medical care led to your child’s condition, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the at-fault obstetrician, nurse, medical facility, or another party.

Davis Levin Livingston can pursue the money you need for your child’s complete and ongoing care.

Contact the firm online or by phone at (808) 740-0633 for a free, confidential consultation with a Hawaii HIE attorney. 

What Is Hypoxic-ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE)?

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a common type of birth injury, is a condition characterized by brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen and blood to the brain. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, also referred to as perinatal asphyxia, is responsible for nearly a quarter of all neonatal deaths around the world.

This relatively common condition occurs in approximately one to six of every 1,000 live births, and 20 percent of children with HIE die as newborns.

Despite significant advances in birth injury prevention, HIE remains a devastating condition that causes a significant number of deaths. Of the babies who survive, up to a quarter suffer severe disabilities, including motor or cognitive impairment.

Complications of this condition can include:

  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Vision and hearing loss
  • Behavioral issues
  • Learning disabilities
  • Failure of organs, including the liver and kidneys

If you believe that your infant has been affected by hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, it’s vital that you consult with an HIE attorney in Hawaii. Understanding the symptoms, treatments, and potential outcomes for HIE is the first step.

Common Causes of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy

HIE is caused by a lack of oxygen and blood to the brain, but how does this occur in the first place?

HIE may be linked to such forms of obstetrical malpractice as:

  • Delayed C-section
  • Improper management of shoulder dystocia
  • Failure to identify or respond to fetal distress
  • Failure to recommend a C-section in a high-risk pregnancy or delivery
  • Failure to address prolonged labor with a vacuum or forceps-assisted delivery
  • Failure to diagnose or treat preeclampsia
  • Failure to diagnose or treat maternal diabetes

Symptoms of Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy

Symptoms of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy may include:

  • Low heart-rate
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Weak breathing
  • Bluish or pale color to the skin
  • Severe fussiness
  • Feeding difficulties

HIE symptoms can be mistaken for other conditions, including infections such as sepsis, genetic metabolism defects, other types of seizures, and stroke. If your child exhibits symptoms of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, it is important that medical professionals rule out other possible causes that may be either treatable or life-threatening.

Symptoms of Mild HIE

In mild cases of HIE, an infant may show slightly increased muscle tone and deep tendon reflexes. Various behavioral aberrations — including excessive fatigue or crying, poor feeding, or irritability — may appear. These mild symptoms typically resolve in approximately 24 hours.

Symptoms of Moderate HIE

In moderate cases, infants demonstrate lethargy and decreased deep tendon reflexes. Occasional periods of apnea may appear, and the infant may exhibit sluggish or absent grasping and sucking reflexes. In many cases, seizures are apparent within 24 hours after birth. Infants with moderate symptoms may recover within one to two weeks.

Symptoms of Severe HIE

Severe cases may include delayed seizures that do not respond to typical treatments. The frequency of the seizures may increase during the 24 to 48 hours following the initial onset. Infants with severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy may exhibit even less wakefulness and may suffer increased brain edema.

Coma often occurs in severe cases, and the baby may not respond to most physical stimuli. The child may exhibit irregular breathing and may require ventilation support. Depressed tendon reflexes commonly occur. Typical reflexes such as grasping, sucking, and swallowing do not occur.

In addition, babies with severe HIE may exhibit eye movement disturbances, and the pupils may dilate or react poorly to light. Blood pressure and heart rate irregularities are common, and infants with severe cases may die from cardio-respiratory failure.

Diagnosing the Condition

To diagnose hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a medical professional should determine that several factors are present, including seizures or coma, the involvement of multiple organs, and the persistence of an Apgar score of 0 to 3 for more than five minutes.

In addition, a number of tests and studies are used to diagnose the condition. Lab tests including renal function, serum electrolyte levels, coagulation system, cardiac and liver enzymes, and arterial blood gas are used. Imaging studies may include echocardiography, cranial ultrasonography, and brain magnetic resonance imaging.

A hearing test, ophthalmic and retinal exam, and standard and amplitude-integrated electroencephalograph also may be used.

Treating and Managing Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy

Once an infant with HIE is initially resuscitated and stabilized, treatment involves supportive therapies, including management of blood pressure and fluids, adequate ventilation, and avoidance of hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, and hyperthermia. In addition, treatment is administered for seizures.

Newborns with this condition typically are transferred to an intensive care nursery, with treatment divided into immediate management and long-term care. Immediate treatment includes catheters for blood pressure and blood gas monitoring, support of respiratory needs, seizure medications, fever control, and other measures.

Long-term treatment may include seizure medications along with occupational, speech, physical, and behavioral or cognitive therapies. In addition, special education and assistive devices may be required.

What Outcomes Can Be Expected?

The long-term prognosis for infants with HIE depends on the severity of the condition and the areas of the brain affected. Children with mild forms of the condition may have normal motor and neurocognitive functioning, while severe cases may result in early death or poor outcomes for babies that survive.

Outcomes for children with moderate forms of the condition can vary significantly; MRI can prove useful in predicting future functioning for children in this group. In some cases, cognitive impairment may not appear until children reach school age. Ongoing screening should be conducted to spot and treat any symptoms early.

Call Davis Levin Livingston for a Free Birth Injury Consultation

It can be difficult to know whether your child’s condition was caused by obstetrical malpractice. The Hawaii hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy attorneys at Davis Levin Livingston have over 40 years of legal experience, and they have a nurse and medical director on staff to assist with the medical aspect of these claims. They know how to identify substandard care and how to fight for the fair compensation that a child with HIE deserves.

To learn more, call (808) 740-0633 for an HIE attorney in Hawaii. Davis Levin Livingston serves Honolulu and all of Hawaii.

Four Decades of Record Breaking Victories

  • $15,000,000 Vacuum/Forceps Injury
  • $12,500,000 Fetal Distress
  • $11,000,000 C-Section Errors
  • $9,975,000 Brain Injury
  • $9,000,000 Cerebral Palsy
  • $7,900,000 Fetal Distress

Why Davis Levin Livingston?

  • Available by phone 24/7 & ready to help.
  • Secured tens of millions of dollars on behalf of our clients.
  • Highest malpractice judgment in U.S. history against a military hospital.
  • Includes an experienced medical team including a nursing staff to answer your questions.
  • Mark Davis and Mike Livingston have been recognized as some of the best lawyers in Hawaii.
  • Resources available to advance your expenses; no cost or fees unless Davis Levin Livingston wins your case.

Dedicated Legal Counsel You Can Count On

Helping Families throughout hawaii for over 40 years
  • "Professional, KIND, and understanding"
    They are most professional, KIND, and understanding. Thank you Matt Winter for all your help.
    - Clare T.
  • "We wouldn't have chosen any other team!"
    Mathew Winter and the whole staff of Davis Levin Livingston guided us every step of the way and made sure we understood everything that was going on. They were always so welcoming and compassionate. Communication was never a problem and emails were answered super fast, especially when we had so many questions. They
    - Maariel
  • "The absolute best firm in Hawaii. Compassion and professionalism at its best!"
    Truly a wonderful experience with everyone at the firm. I can't thank you enough for helping provide closure for my family and me during this process. The absolute best firm in Hawaii. Compassion and professionalism at its best!
    - Daniel
  • "After doing extensive research I knew that Davis Levin Livingston was the firm for me due to the success they have had in cases like mine."
    After doing extensive research I knew that Davis Levin Livingston was the firm for me due to the success they have had in cases like mine. What surprised me was their personal touch. In the 3
    - Anthony

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