Have You Been Injured? We're Ready to Fight for You.

Louisville, KY Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) Lawyer

Most infants in the United States are delivered without incident, but every now and then you hear about a case where a newborn infant is injured during childbirth. These incidents are known as birth injuries and while they happen quite rarely, families are still impacted to a devastating degree every time a case presents itself. Some birth injury cases are unavoidable, but many can be prevented with proper fetal monitoring, early risk assessment, and a response and intervention plan that allows doctors and hospital staff members to quickly manage any complications.  One of the most common–and dangerous—types of birth injuries is called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy or hypoxic ischemia, often simply referred to as HIE.

HIE is directly caused by a lack of oxygen to a newborn’s brain during the process of delivery. This state of being deprived of oxygen is often known as asphyxia. A newborn infant can survive for a very short period of time while experiencing fetal asphyxia, but after being deprived of oxygen for more than a few minutes, a newborn’s brain tissue will start to suffer irreversible damage, becoming permanently destroyed.

Don't wait. We're ready to fight.
Call us at 502.473.6540 or fill out this form.

Causes of Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy

There are many different causes of HIE and fetal asphyxia. Causes can occur before, during, or after the birth of the newborn. Some of the complications which commonly cause HIE during the antepartum period of pregnancy include maternal diabetes, preeclampsia, cardiac disease, congenital infections, fetal anemia, drug/alcohol abuse, and lung malformations.

During the labor and delivery process and even shortly after, common complications and causes include the following:

  • Low maternal or neonatal blood pressure
  • Injury from umbilical cord complication
  • Prolonged, late stages of labor
  • Abnormal fetal position
  • Rupture of the placenta or uterus
  • Hemorrhage (excessive bleeding)
  • Injury from cephalopelvic disproportion
  • Infections (sepsis, meningitis)
  • Severe prematurity
  • Brain or skull trauma
  • Congenital brain malformation
  • Cardiac or pulmonary complication
  • Medical negligence

In some cases, identifying a definitive cause for HIE can be extremely difficult. Many causes are unavoidable, but others can be prevented during the mother’s pregnancy as well as during the delivery of the child. Proper fetal monitoring is essential, along with regular checkups during the mother’s pregnancy in order to identify any early risk factors that may lead to complications. Doctors must also take instantaneous action during the child’s delivery if asphyxia should ever occur for whatever reason. If these requirements are not met, hospital negligence or medical malpractice may be one possible cause for a newborn’s HIE condition.

Implications of Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy

Research indicates that hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is one of the leading causes of death or severe impairment among infants. HIE is also directly linked to cerebral palsy, but remains one of the rarer causes of the condition, accounting for roughly 9% of cerebral palsy cases.

The conditions and future implications of HIE will vary based on how long the child was deprived of oxygen and whether the infant experienced mild, moderate, or severe symptoms. Most of the time, newborns with mild HIE symptoms can enjoy their lives unaffected by HIE while children with severe symptoms may have a shortened lifespan as well as experience a variety of painful, debilitating complications and conditions throughout their lives.

Early symptoms of HIE include the following:

  • Low heart rate
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Weak breathing
  • Meconium-stained amniotic fluid
  • Pale or bluish skin color
  • Excessive acid in the blood
  • Organ dysfunction, especially of the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys
  • Seizures, especially within the first 24 hours of life

When early symptoms present themselves, a wide range of tests is usually issued to determine whether or not the symptoms are due to HIE. Afterwards, a treatment course is planned which can include breathing therapy, anesthesia, oxygen treatments, and medications to control the baby’s heart functions, blood glucose levels, and seizures.

Children diagnosed with moderate to severe HIE usually need to be placed on medication for the rest of their lives and may eventually develop cognitive impairments, motor skill development delays, neurodevelopment delays, and even epilepsy or cerebral palsy.

Ending the Silence

The only way to truly prevent hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy is by eliminating prolonged asphyxia during pregnancy and childbirth. Many doctors will claim that HIE is unpreventable, but with proper fetal monitoring and prenatal care, most cases of HIE can be prevented entirely. If you or someone you know has a child who has suffered from conditions or symptoms associated with HIE and you feel hospital negligence might be one or more causes, the family of the child is more than entitled to seek legal and financial compensation for everything they’ve endured.

Doctors and hospitals need to learn to take the proper preventative measures to ensure prolonged asphyxia does not occur during childbirth. Understaffed delivery wards and rushed newborn deliveries are not an excuse. A Louisville medical malpractice lawyer like Tad Thomas of Thomas Law Offices is experienced in complicated malpractice cases and is willing to fight for you and your loved ones to ensure cases of HIE do not keep happening. Give our Louisville, KY office a call to find out if filing a case is an option.

Free Case Evaluation

At Thomas Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys recognize that our potential clients are likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We don't want you to have to worry about paying out of pocket for legal advice when you're just starting to learn your legal rights and options. That's why we provide free case evaluations. We'll offer our expert advice about your potential case and walk you through how we can help you.

Call us or fill out the form below to tell us about your potential case and a personal injury lawyer will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

Legal & Firm News

Second Lawsuit Filed by Thomas Law Offices Against Louisville Apartment Complex for Negligence in Assault Case

Last week, attorney David Barber of Thomas Law Offices filed a second lawsuit against River Breeze Apartments, alleging negligence and failure to ensure tenant safety after residents were attacked and sexually assaulted in Louisville. According to the complaint, the survivor was “brutally attacked, beaten, kidnapped, robbed, and sexually assaulted at gunpoint by a man matching […]

Read More

How Much Does Car Insurance Go Up After an Accident?

Maintaining an automobile insurance policy offers many benefits for car owners. In Illinois, it is also the law. A recent report on ABC 7 Chicago Eyewitness News found that insurance costs spiked in the last year from $1,806 to $2,310. In addition to those regular increases, your car insurance can also go up after an […]

Read More

Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way?

There are over 2,716,450 people who call the Windy City home, according to the City of Chicago. This is a city that teems with traffic and pedestrians who share miles of streets and roads. The hope is that everyone gets to where they’re going safely. To make that happen, everyone needs to be aware and […]

Read More
Tad Thomas on The National Crime Victim Bar Association
National Civil Justice Institute - Trustee
Tad Thomas on Lawyer Minds
Tad Thomas on American Association for Justice
Southern Trial Lawyers Association
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
Ohio Association for Justice
Kentucky Justice Association
Fellows of the Litigation Counsel of America
Martindale Hubbell Preeminent
2021 Public Justice Member
AAJ Masters of Trial Law: Champion