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Brain Damage From Oxygen Deprivation

Brain damage does not discriminate by age. It can happen to anyone, and for a variety of reasons. However, it is distressingly common for it to occur at birth, due to mishap or to mistake on the part of the delivering doctor. While not every damaging outcome is directly attributable to a doctor’s malpractice, some of them are, and it is important that those professionals be held accountable.

Symptoms of Brain Injury and Damage

Anoxia occurs when the oxygen supply to the brain completely disappears, and it can be life-threatening, depending on how long the condition persists. Sometimes the condition of hypoxia is differentiated, but the only real difference is that hypoxia is a partial deprivation of oxygen, while anoxia is a complete deprivation.

Mild to moderate anoxic brain damage will present differently than severe damage. With severe brain damage, the person may simply fall into a coma or another altered state and not regain consciousness. A more mild case, however, may present with many varied symptoms. Some include:

  • Headaches, from mild to migraine-level;
  • Confusion;
  • Decreased ability to concentrate; shorter attention span;
  • Personality change, either short-term (mood swings) or long term;
  • Seizures; and
  • Difficulty with motor skills.

What many people do not realize is that anoxia and hypoxia can occur even when the amount of blood in the brain is completely normal. Anoxia most commonly occurs when there is a stroke or other clot blocking blood flow to the brain, but it may also occur due to factors like high altitude or the presence of carbon monoxide – anything that would harm the blood’s ability to oxygenate. In babies being born, the most common cause of anoxia is some event causing choking or suffocation – for example, a prolapsed or pinched umbilical cord.

Treatment and Legal Issues

Depending on the severity of the injury, it may be possible to treat some of the damage sustained. New treatments like hyperbaric oxygen therapy have been proven to significantly improve the prognosis of some people with traumatic brain injuries, though obviously, such treatments are not helpful for everyone. Mild brain injuries can, in some cases, be reversed, depending on how long the brain was deprived of oxygen. Even severe brain injuries, while not reversible, do not necessarily degrade quality of life to nil.

A medical professional can be sued for malpractice if they are believed to have been negligent in their care of a patient. A plaintiff must prove that the doctor in question had a legal duty to provide appropriate care to a patient, and breached it by wanton or reckless actions (or non-actions). They must also prove that harm resulted from that breach. If a doctor, for example, failed to notice anoxia occurring in as much time as another doctor of similar experience and skill would, or failed to administer appropriate treatment in time, that would arguably be negligent.

However, the question of treatment and varying degrees of severity can occasionally be a bone of contention during a malpractice lawsuit. In this case, the fact that many brain injury treatments are experimental at best can cloud the proverbial waters. A plaintiff may allege that the failure to try and treat a brain injury was negligent, or conversely, may allege that trying an experimental treatment was negligent. Either way, it is a difficult question the courts must decide.

Get A Professional On Your Side

Brain damage can be debilitating and frightening for you and your family. If you or a loved one suspect that you have sustained brain damage due to a medical professional’s negligence, it is imperative that you have someone on your side who knows the law. Gary Roberts & Associates is a firm with a long history of success in malpractice cases, and we work hard to make our clients feel valued and respected. We can work with your schedule, if need be, and we are also able to accommodate those who prefer to speak Spanish. Contact our West Palm Beach offices today for a free initial consultation.

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