Diagnosing Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy in Infants

When a child is born, doctors perform a battery of tests to ensure the baby is as healthy as possible and that if they need any type of medical care, it is made available immediately. There are some situations when this does not happen. Understanding what your doctor should look for in the care of your child is a critical detail to know if they engaged in medical malpractice. If your child has been diagnosed with Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy, you should know what steps should be taken to formulate an accurate diagnosis. A Portland hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy attorney may be able to help your family during this difficult time.

Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy Diagnosis

There are various points that can help with the diagnosis of Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy. Typically, doctors will perform a series of tests at the time of the child’s birth to determine if this condition is present. This is common and expected in most cases. It can be necessary for situations where there is prolonged labor, when there is any incident in which the child is without oxygen for any amount of time, or if there are umbilical cord issues. Fast diagnosis is critical to ensuring the child receives proper care and treatment, including therapeutic hypothermia or other medical care.

Key signs that doctors look for include the following:

  • The way the baby looks: The color of the child’s skin, such as whether the child is blue, pint, or pale including their face and their limbs
  • The pulse at the time of birth and after: If the baby’s heart rate is very slow or too fast, or if the child’s pulse is absent
  • The activity of the child: This includes how the baby is moving and acting, including their activity and flexion movements (which are movements of the joints)
  • How the child is breathing: Including if the breathing rate is strong and effective and whether the child is crying strong
  • The reflex irritability: This test is done to look at how the baby responds to stimulation, with a feeble cry or grimace being indicative of concern while pulling away from the stimulation is more normal

These signs are looked at one minute after the child’s birth and five minutes after the birth. Then, the child is scored in each area. When a child scores low on this test, they are at a high level of concern for Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy. A child that is in the mid-range is considered below normal, and more testing is likely to be done. A child who scores a 7 or higher on the test is considered within the normal range, and no further testing is necessary in most cases.

This complex testing process provides insight to doctors immediately to determine if they need to take further action to help a child. If that test is not performed or care is not provided to the child at that time, then it could indicate the doctor failed to provide the necessary care to the child.

Has Your Child Suffered? Contact Us

At Paulson Coletti Trial Attorneys PC, our medical malpractice attorneys can help you if your child has Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy that was not properly diagnosed or treated. Contact us to schedule a free consultation to learn what steps we can take to help your child.