Have you or a loved one suffered a hypoxic brain injury as a result of medical negligence? If so, contact us, as we may be able to help. This article will discuss hypoxic brain injuries and the process of hiring a lawyer to seek compensation on your behalf in Oklahoma.
What is Hypoxia?
In general, Hypoxia refers to a severe lack of oxygen in the blood that causes other symptoms in the body. The body’s blood requires oxygen to deliver nutrients and perform other functions in the body. If oxygen levels become too low, then severe damage can result, including brain damage.
What causes hypoxia in the body?
There are a number of things that can cause hypoxia, but they all stem from the concept of cutting off oxygen. If there is a circumstance or situation where oxygen is restricted, then hypoxia can result.
Hypoxia can occur during the labor and delivery process of a newborn. If the fetus remains in the birth canal for extended periods of time, the fetus can become oxygen deprived.
A common form of hypoxic brain damage is hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). This type of brain injury can occur at birth, during the labor process. HIE can be an issue due to the health of the mother, as well as a result of mistakes or negligence by the hospital or physician.
Hospital Negligence can cause HIE and other hypoxic brain injuries
Nurses and other employees of the hospital have a duty to monitor patients, and relay information to the physicians. When nurses and hospital staff fail to relay such information to physicians, patient care can suffer.
Physicians rely on communication from the nursing staff about the patient conditions. Physicians often do not know what is going on with the patient. They rely on the hospital staff to inform them.
If the hospital staff failed to monitor the patient’s condition, and/or failed to relay information about the patient’s condition to the physician, the hospital may be liable for negligence. That is because hospitals are liable for the mistakes of its employees.
Physician Negligence can cause HIE and other hypoxic brain injuries
Physicians are liable when their performance falls below the local standard of care. This is a standard that all doctors must rise to, and this standard is set by other doctors. Essentially, doctors must do the minimum that any other doctor in that situation would do.
In cases involving brain injuries, the physician is liable if the physician failed to do something that other reasonable physicians in that situation, under those circumstances, would have done.
Hiring a Lawyer to seek compensation for HIE and hypoxic brain injuries
If you have a case involving a brain injury that was caused by either hospital or physician negligence, you must seek out a lawyer who has experience with these types of cases, and with medical negligence cases in general. The reason is that medical negligence cases are very complex, and also require a great deal of out-of-pocket expenses to litigate.
Reviewing the Client’s Case
When you contact our office about your medical malpractice case, we will begin the process of first screening your case. This involves asking you certain questions and obtaining your medical records. We will then hire a medical expert — sometimes a nurse, sometimes a physician — to review parts of the medical record.
We will consult with these experts during this time to determine if there was negligence, either on the part of the hospital or the doctor. During this screening process, we will try to decipher if the negligence was caused by nursing or hospital staff, unrelated to the doctor. Or if the doctor was the culprit and not the hospital staff. Sometimes both can be at fault. And sometimes neither are at fault. Discovering this early on can save a family a lot of time and headache from misdirected anger.
The Lawsuit process in Hypoxic Brain Injury cases
Once we have determined the cause of the HIE or brain injury, and the culpable party (hospital or doctor), we will prepare a lawsuit naming the responsible party. By this time, we will already have an expert opinion on the matter, and we will have the medical records relating to the client. We will serve the lawsuit and begin the process.
We will initiate discovery by requesting documentation from the hospital, and also demanding that they answer certain questions about the incident. Most of the time, you don’t get answers easily, as they lawyers for the doctors and hospitals will object to everything and delay production of responses they don’t object to.
This process can last one to two years. That sounds like a really long time, but it is very typical in these types of cases. This process is very critical, because it is during this time that we are seeking to validate our own expert’s opinion by obtaining either documentation or witness testimony that correlates to what our expert has stated.
How to Settle a Hypoxic Brain Injury Case outside of court
Attempting to settle a case before conclusion of discovery is usually a waste of time because Defendants in medical cases do not settle until you have shown them that you know how to piece the entire case together, line by line, from every document and every witness. However, after conducting discovery, we will be well prepared to mediate the case by the end of the discovery.
In addition to settlement discussions at the conclusion of the discovery phase, we will begin the pre-trial phase. This is where we schedule a hearing with the judge to discuss setting a trial date. There will also be lots of motions filed by the other side, which we must defeat in order to proceed with the case.
From there, we will get the court to schedule the case for trial. We will either take the case to trial or settle it. Either way, these types of cases do not get resolved without extensive expenditure of time, money and other resources. They are just too complicated and are not to be confused with less complex matters, such as auto accident cases.
Hire a Lawyer with Experience litigating Hypoxic Brain Damage Cases
Travis Charles Smith is an experienced trial lawyer who has recovered millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements for his clients, including clients who have suffered HIE and other hypoxic brain injuries.
If you have questions about the lawsuit process in Oklahoma, or would like Travis to review your case, then contact us and tell us about your case. We will contact you to set up an interview, either by phone or in person, at our office or at your home. From there, we will screen your case, then hire an expert to do a second screening.
You may call our office at 405-724-8112.