Whether or not you can sue for anoxic brain damage in Maryland depends on whether another party caused your injury. Anoxic brain injuries can be caused by medical procedures that go badly wrong or childbirth complications. The family members of people who suffer these terrible injuries don’t always realize a medical professional could have done more. Although brain damage is not always caused directly by a medical mistake, the failure of a doctor to diagnose the signs of an impending stroke that causes severe brain damage is a ground to sue for anoxic brain damage in Maryland.
Lawsuits for anoxic damage in Maryland are usually brought against doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists or hospitals for medical malpractice. Talk to Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer Randolph Rice if you or a family member has suffered anoxic brain damage.
What Is Anoxic Brain Damage?
An anoxic brain injury is caused by the depletion of oxygen to the brain. It’s an extremely serious and life-threatening condition. Oxygen is vital for all brain functions. The brain’s cells can begin to die if oxygen levels are low for 4-5 minutes or longer. Anoxic brain damage is an injury that is not usually caused by a blow to the head. When the brain is deprived of oxygen for too long the neural cells start to die through a process called apoptosis. Even a short time without oxygen can cause brain damage and impact function. If the brain continues to be deprived of oxygen, the anoxic brain injury can be fatal.
Initially, the brain responds to cerebral anoxia by boosting the blood flow to the brain to restore an adequate supply of oxygen. The blood flow cannot be increased to more than twice the normal level. If this is not enough to compensate for the anoxia, the brain function is impaired.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), brain cell damage can occur within just one minute of oxygen deprivation and permanent brain damage and death typically occurs within less than five minutes of the oxygen supply being cut off.
Most Common Causes of Anoxic Brain Injuries
Anoxic brain injury can be caused by anything that cuts off the flow of oxygen to the brain. Common causes include:
- An attack or an assault that leaves the victim unconscious
- Oxygen deprivation to babies during birth; this can occur when the umbilical cord strangles the infant or the baby gets trapped in the birth canal
- A choking attack
- A stroke that can deprive the brain of oxygen and blood for several minutes
- A transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke, may cut off the oxygen supply to the brain for several seconds or even minutes
- Swallowing your own vomit
- A drug or alcohol overdose
- Anaphylactic shock following an allergic reaction
- A sudden blow to the windpipe
- Carbon monoxide poisoning or smoke inhalation
- A severe electrical shock
- Near drowning
- Inadequate oxygen supply or cardiac arrest to a patient under general anesthesia
Types of Anoxic Brain Injuries
There are three main types of anoxic brain conditions, namely:
- Anemic Anoxia: A condition when the blood is unable to carry oxygen to the brain;
- Toxic Anoxia: when the brain is deprived of oxygen because of the presence of poison or a toxic substance;
- Stagnant Anoxia: When blockages in the body stop oxygen from reaching the brain.
Suing a Doctor or a Hospital for Anoxic Brain Damage in Maryland
Medical malpractice is the most common cause of anoxic brain damage lawsuits in Maryland. You may have grounds to sue a doctor, nurse, hospital, or another medical professional in the following circumstances:
Birth injuries caused by a negligent delivery or prenatal care – Giving birth is a much safer process than a century ago, but things can quickly go wrong fast during a delivery. If doctors, nurses, or midwives fail to realize a complication such as a child being strangled by the umbilical cord, they can be held liable for failure to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord. The failure to order a Cesarian section to avoid a dangerous birth is a significant cause of birth injury lawsuits in Maryland.
Misdiagnosis or a delay in diagnosis – Misdiagnosis or a delay in diagnosing a serious condition like a stroke that deprives the brain of oxygen is another significant cause of medical malpractice lawsuits.
Anesthesia errors – Anesthesia errors are a major cause of medical malpractice lawsuits. Administering too much anesthesia as well as delaying the delivery of anesthesia can deprive the brain of oxygen. Before a patient goes under anesthesia, medical professionals must make sure the patient does not have any adverse reactions to medications. The medical team must constantly monitor a patient during an operation.
Surgical errors – Many types of mistakes during surgery can deprive the brain of oxygen.
Compression of the trachea – Any surgical mistake that leads to the blockage of the trachea which carries oxygen to the brain can lead to anoxia.
Long-Term Health Effects of Anoxic Brain Damage in Maryland
The consequences of anoxic brain damage are often drastic. Even when cerebral anoxia is mild, the patient can suffer issues with concentration, lack of attention, short-term memory, and coordination. As the oxygen depletion becomes more extreme and longer, he or she may suffer from seizures, loss of consciousness and coma.
The nerve cells of the brain are particularly sensitive to a lack of oxygen. Anoxia can affect the cells that control memory, and movement. Acute anoxic brain injury can harm the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. These small structures control the body’s hormones.
Anoxic brain damage may leave a patient in a vegetative state or lead to death. People who survive it can suffer consequences that ruin or impair their quality of life including poor concentration, mood swings, acting inappropriately in social situations, the loss of bladder and bowel control, blurred vision, loss of sexual function, balance issues, and problems walking.
Anoxic Brain Damage vs. Hypoxic Brain Damage
The terms hypoxia and anoxia are sometimes used interchangeably. However, there is a difference. While anoxic brain injuries are caused by a complete lack of oxygen to the brain, hypoxic brain injuries are caused by a restricted flow of oxygen to the brain. Both conditions can be devastating and prove to be fatal.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Anoxic Brain Damage in Maryland?
Although anoxic brain injuries are often associated with medical malpractice, other parties can be held liable including:
- The driver who caused a car wreck in which a victim suffered a loss of blood to the brain;
- The owner or operator of a swimming pool whose lifeguards failed to save a swimmer from partial drowning;
- A boating operator whose negligence led the drowning or the partial drowning of passengers;
- A landlord of an apartment complex where a carbon monoxide leak caused anoxic brain injuries;
- A railroad or trucking company responsible for a spill of hazardous chemicals;
- The manufacturer of faulty equipment that failed during a medical procedure, causing anoxic injury.
Talk to a Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyer About Anoxic Brain Damage in Maryland
Brain injuries are often devastating. This is particularly the case with anoxic brain damage that deprives the brain of a large amount of oxygen it needs to survive. A family member who suffered from anoxia may be left in a vegetative state because of the negligence of a medical professional or someone else. You can face enormous medical bills for this type of injury. The victim deserves to be compensated not just for the medical bills but for the loss of his or her quality of life and future prospects. You also deserve to be compensated for the loss of a loved one because of a mistake. Talk to our Baltimore personal injury lawyer about your options as soon as possible. Please contact us for a free appointment.