The brain needs a significant amount of oxygen to allow proper functioning of neurons and metabolic processes. Without enough oxygen, brain cells die off. Therapeutic hypothermia, or brain cooling, is a process medical practitioners employ when a complication during the birthing process results in loss of oxygen to an infant’s brain.
Oxygen deprivation can lead to a birth injury known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which can cause health conditions such as cerebral palsy, brain damage, cognitive disabilities, poor motor function, or vision and hearing loss. In some cases, oxygen deprivation for long periods could result in death.
What Is Brain Cooling Treatment?
The treatment requires doctors to wrap the baby in a blanket, or fit them with a special cap, that cools the body temperature to around 91°F, which slows metabolic functions. During this process, the brain requires less oxygen and the cells can recover, which could prevent further complications from arising.
For the treatment to be effective, doctors must administer it within 6 hours of the birth injury and must keep the baby cooled for 2 to 3 days. During this time, the baby must undergo MRIs, EEGs, or other tests to monitor brain and heart activity. After the treatment is finished and the test results are normal, the baby’s temperature will be slowly warmed.
What Causes Oxygen Deprivation?
While brain cooling can help reduce the effects of oxygen deprivation, administering it might suggest that a medical practitioner’s negligence caused the baby to suffer harm upon delivery.
Oxygen deprivation can be caused by many factors, including:
- Delayed delivery
- Improper use of forceps
- Lack of monitoring during delivery
Doctors and nurses must provide a standard level of care, and they are trained to identify birthing problems that could cause harm to a baby. Failure to respond to these complications may indicate they did not act as another reasonable practitioner would have under similar conditions.
Further, if a doctor failed to recognize a delivery problem causing oxygen deprivation and, consequently, did not promptly administer the brain cooling treatment, they could have also acted negligently.
Schedule a Free Consultation with The Law Office of Michael R. Green, PLLC Today
If your baby was treated with therapeutic hypothermia, they might have suffered an injury at birth that was the result of negligence. A medical practitioner whose actions, or inactions, cause harm to a patient can be held liable for damages. Our lawyer at The Law Office of Michael R. Green, PLLC can help you pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault party and work toward recovering compensation that will allow you to get the medical treatment your baby needs.