The birth of a child is a time of great joy. However, when complications arise and doctors fail to act appropriately during a difficult birth, severe birth and brain injuries from negligent hospital care are possible. These types of injuries are often caused by obstructed oxygen flow to a fetus, potentially resulting in asphyxia, anemia, hypoxia, cerebral palsy, and seizures as well as muscular, intellectual, and developmental disabilities. In some cases, a doctor’s negligence can even cause death.
Neonatal therapeutic hypothermia is a relatively new therapy used to mitigate brain injuries and disabilities caused by oxygen deprivation by cooling the patient’s body temperature to reduce inflammation and improve healing. If your child has suffered from injuries from a lack of oxygen to the brain and your doctor failed to correctly administer neonatal therapeutic hypothermia to treat the brain injury, call a Maryland neonatal therapeutic hypothermia birth injury attorney. The experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice are available to help you file your medical malpractice claim. Call (410) 694-7291 today to schedule a free consultation.
What is Neonatal Therapeutic Hypothermia?
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation before or during birth. This type of injury is a major cause of death and disability and occurs in approximately two to three births out of every 1,000. Neonatal therapeutic-hypothermia helps mitigate the damage caused by HIE and is proven to improve an infant’s chance of survival in many cases.
During therapeutic-hypothermia an infant’s body temperature is cooled by a few degrees for 72 hours, reducing swelling and allowing the brain to repair itself. This kind of therapy can be life-saving or help prevent years of brain-injury related problems for a newborn.
Causes of Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy at Birth
If neonatal therapeutic hypothermia is necessary, it usually means that an infant has suffered from hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy or a similar brain injury from a lack of oxygen. In many cases, the medical staff’s negligent conduct is to blame. Additionally, a doctor could misdiagnose or improperly treat a nuchal cord or uterine rupture, both of which could dangerously restrict a baby’s oxygen or blood flow. Inaction can also be negligent. For example, not ordering an emergency cesarean section when the baby was at substantial risk can cause significant oxygen deprivation.
Errors and Medical Malpractice in Administering Neonatal Therapeutic Hypothermia
If your baby required neonatal therapeutic hypothermia due to HIE or asphyxia and became permanently disabled in Maryland, you may be entitled to compensation for medical malpractice. The medical staff at the hospital may have been negligent in failing to prevent hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy to the point where the hypothermia therapy will not help. Alternatively, they may have been negligent in administering the therapeutic hypothermia, causing additional complications. This kind of medical negligence can often lead to medical malpractice lawsuits.
Several medical errors are common during neonatal therapeutic hypothermia treatments. Timing is important, as therapeutic hypothermia is most effective within six hours of birth. If the therapy is administered late, its effectiveness is substantially limited. It is also possible that a doctor might never administer therapeutic hypothermia because there was a failure to diagnose the baby’s brain injury. Similarly, a doctor could fail to inform parents that therapeutic hypothermia is a treatment option, meaning the treatment is never given.
Neonatal therapeutic hypothermia is a relatively new and delicate procedure. A hospital should have organizational procedures in place to ensure the therapy is available for critical cases. Failing to properly follow these procedures or failing to have such procedures in place could result in adverse medical consequences. If a hospital lacks the facilities to administer neonatal therapeutic hypothermia, then failing to promptly transport the infant to a facility with the right capabilities may also be medical negligence.
Suing for Medical Malpractice in Infant Brain Injury Cases in Maryland
Significant oxygen deprivation usually has severe medical and health consequences for an infant. Birth asphyxia, anemia, respiratory distress, meconium, cerebral palsy, seizures, and issues with muscular, intellectual, or developmental disabilities could have a significant impact on the life of any child, and a permanent disability will require years of expensive medical treatments, therapy, and economic support. As the family of a victim of birth injuries and medical malpractice in Maryland, you will see your resources stretched. In many cases, you are entitled to sue the negligent doctors and hospital workers to get compensation for these expenses and other costs.
Proving Malpractice in Maryland Neonatal Therapeutic Hypothermia Cases
Errors in medical judgment and treatment decisions are not necessarily malpractice. To prove a birth injury or an injury from neonatal therapeutic hypothermia was the result of medical malpractice in Maryland, you must show four things: duty, breach, causation, and harm.
First, a doctor or medical professional owes a patient a duty of care. The standards for this duty of care are defined as the quality of care a reasonably prudent medical professional in the same discipline would provide under similar circumstances.
Second, the medical professional must have breached that duty of care. A simple mistake is not always medical malpractice – it must be a serious and unjustifiable error that deviated from the established standard of care to qualify as malpractice.
Next, the injury suffered must be a direct result of the negligent error or else you cannot prove that the negligence caused the injuries.
Finally, actual economic and non-economic damages must arise from the injury. Economic damages are measurable in dollar amounts, such as medical costs, lost income, legal fees, funeral expenses, or other related costs. Non-economic damages are more difficult to measure. These include pain and suffering or emotional distress. To have a successful medical malpractice claim, you must demonstrate actual damages.
It is important to speak with a Maryland neonatal therapeutic hypothermia medical malpractice attorney to evaluate your case and learn more about what your malpractice claim might be worth.
Call a Lawyer for Maryland Neonatal Therapeutic Hypothermia Malpractice and Birth Injuries Today for a Free Consultation
If your infant has suffered a permanent disability or death from the misdiagnosis of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, you may be eligible for compensation for medical malpractice. Also, if your doctor failed to mitigate brain damage with neonatal therapeutic hypothermia or improperly used this therapy, consult a Maryland medical malpractice attorney to help you understand your rights. The birth injury and neonatal therapeutic hypothermia malpractice lawyers at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice have the experience, knowledge, and resources to fight for compensation for you and your family. Call (410) 694-7291 today to schedule a free consultation.