Encephalopathy Lawyers in Pittsburgh, PA


Encephalopathy is a disease affecting brain function and structure. There are many different types of encephalopathy – some occur at birth, some occur later in life, some worsen, and some may be temporary. You may be familiar with cerebral traumatic encephalopathy or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which came to light following extensive research on athletes' brains and concussions. But if your child was diagnosed with encephalopathy, you may be left with more questions than answers. Encephalopathy in newborns often results from a lack of, or absence of, oxygen reaching the child's brain during delivery.

If your baby was diagnosed with encephalopathy, you may be wondering if the brain damage was preventable and if your healthcare provider could have done more. Our law firm is prepared to answer any questions you may have at 412-394-1000.

Can You Treat Encephalopathy?

You can treat encephalopathy in a variety of ways depending on the specific type of encephalopathy and what caused it. There are many types of encephalopathy, and so treatments will vary accordingly: oxygen therapy, rehabilitation, brain cooling therapy, dialysis and kidney transplant, glucose or insulin treatments, nutritional supplements, a special diet, medications, or, in some severe cases, life support.

Encephalopathy causes in children can include lack of oxygen during delivery, brain injury, or an infection. Urgent treatment is necessary to prevent encephalopathy or limit the disease's long-term consequences. If a doctor is negligent and fails to identify or treat a potential cause of encephalopathy in your child, you may be entitled to receive compensation for encephalopathy medical malpractice.

How Do You Diagnose Encephalopathy?

Encephalopathy is diagnosed through a series of medical tests and exams, checking for mental and neurological symptoms.

Doctors may:

  • Conduct a CT or MRI scan of the brain to check for damage or abnormalities
  • Use blood tests to check for diseases or imbalances
  • Perform a spinal tap to check for diseases or toxins
  • Perform an EEG test to measure electrical brain activity

In children diagnosed with encephalopathy, it means that the baby has some level of brain damage or dysfunction, or that the child may have developmental encephalopathy. When an infant is born, doctors must closely monitor for and promptly treat any issues that may cause brain damage or encephalopathy.

In many situations, it is crucial for a doctor to catch and treat one of these underlying factors immediately, even within hours of birth, to limit the potential for permanent disability. If your child was diagnosed with encephalopathy and you suspect medical negligence played a part, don't waste any time – call us today at 412-394-1000.

How Do You Get an Anoxic Brain Injury?

You can get an anoxic brain injury if your brain does not receive oxygen for any number of reasons – anoxia simply means an absence of oxygen to the brain. Similarly, even if your brain is receiving some oxygen, you can get a hypoxic brain injury, which is injury due to low levels of oxygen, called hypoxia. Anoxic brain injury can be life-threatening, and it can also lead to severe cognitive problems and disabilities.

Infant delivery or prenatal complications can cause anoxic or hypoxic brain injuries. If the umbilical cord is pinched, kinked, or otherwise damaged, it can stop oxygen from reaching the child's brain. Outside of a umbilical cord issue, other causes of low oxygen to a child's brain include lungs that aren't fully developed, an issue with the mother's blood supply (such as massive bleeding), and other fetal distresses.

If a doctor sees that a child has stopped breathing, there are measures that can be taken to prevent the anoxic brain injury, such as rushing the child to oxygen therapy. If your baby suffered a lack of oxygen during birth and was diagnosed with an anoxic or hypoxic brain injury, and an otherwise competent doctor would have been able to identify and treat the complications, your family may be able to make a medical malpractice claim.

How Does Hepatic Encephalopathy Occur?

Hepatic encephalopathy occurs due to severe liver disease resulting in toxins in the bloodstream. If your liver is unable to remove toxins from the blood, those toxins can cause brain damage.

Liver damage resulting in hepatic encephalopathy often occurs in people who have viral hepatitis or toxic hepatitis (hepatitis caused by exposure to drugs, alcohol, and chemicals). In children, hepatic encephalopathy can occur alongside Reye's syndrome, a condition that causes swelling of the brain and liver.

How Long Does It Take to Have Brain Damage Due to Lack of Oxygen?

It can take as little as under five minutes to have brain damage due to lack of oxygen. Some brain cells begin to die after four minutes with low oxygen levels, and after five minutes, permanent brain damage can occur. When an infant's brain doesn't receive enough oxygen, they may have brain damage called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).

Oxygen deprivation (anoxia and hypoxia) resulting in HIE often occurs just before, during, or just after childbirth. There are a number of situations that can cause brain damage due to a lack of oxygen, many of which can occur due to childbirth complications:

  • Maternal health conditions
  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding or low maternal blood pressure
  • Placenta or uterus tears
  • Umbilical cord problems
  • Lengthy labor and delivery process
  • Abnormal fetal position
  • Childbirth trauma

If your child was diagnosed with HIE as a result of a childbirth injury or complication, and you suspect medical malpractice, we recommend contacting a hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy attorney today. Get the process started by calling 412-394-1000.

Contact an Encephalopathy Lawyer Today

If you have questions or suspect that your child's encephalopathy may have been the result of medical malpractice, don't delay. When filing a medical malpractice claim, you only have a two year deadline – called the statute of limitations. While there are sometimes exceptions to this rule, we suggest getting an experienced encephalopathy medical malpractice attorney to work right away, before evidence disappears.

There's no need to handle this difficult time on your own. Our law firm is available 24/7 to gather details about your situation and answer your questions. If you're wondering if you may have a case or if you're entitled to compensation, we encourage you to call us at 412-394-1000. We offer a completely free legal consultation, so there's no risk in giving us a call.