Low Apgar Scores Could Mean HIE: Oregon Birth Injury Lawyers Explain

Oregon birth injury lawyers

Understand Why Low Apgar Scores Could Mean HIE from our Oregon Birth Injury Lawyers


All types of birth injuries are potentially catastrophic. One particular type of birth injury known as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE, can result in particularly catastrophic and devastating injuries to a newborn. HIE is caused by a decreased blood flow carrying oxygenated blood during the labor and delivery process. This decrease in the oxygenated blood to the baby can result in catastrophic and irreversible brain damage. Sometimes the effects of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy are not immediately obvious. Other times the damage from HIE is only obvious to healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, our Oregon birth injury lawyers know that healthcare providers who see the signs of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy may not necessarily tell a family that it is present in an effort to hide their medical errors for medical mistakes. However, we know that low Apgar scores could mean HIE is present.


Therefore, it is important for a family to know the significance and importance of what and Apgar score is and why it can indicate the presence of a possible birth injury due to medical malpractice. In fact, low Apgar scores could mean HIE is a cause of first injury or damages to a newborn child. Our Oregon birth injury lawyers also know that most instances of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy could be avoided with proper care and treatment. Learn about HIE and Apgar scores in order to protect your family’s rights to compensation under Oregon law.


What is an Apgar Score?


According to Medline Plus from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, and Apgar score is a test performed on a baby after one minute and after five minutes after the baby was officially born. The first test after one minute measures how the baby tolerated the labor and delivery process, essentially the birthing process. The second test after five minutes measures how well the baby is doing outside of the mother’s womb.


An Apgar score maybe done by a doctor or a nurse at a hospital. The healthcare professional is examining a baby’s breathing, heart rate, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin color. Each of these five areas of assessment have different grading rubrics that the healthcare professional must evaluate and score.


The breathing score gives a baby two points if the baby is crying well, one point is given if the baby’s respirations are slow or regular, and a zero is given if the baby is not breathing.


The heart rate score is evaluated by use of a stethoscope and awards a baby two points if the heart rate is greater than 100 beats per minute, one point if the heart rate is less than 100 beats per minute, and zero points if there is no heartbeat.


The muscle tone score is based on physical examination and gives a baby two points if there is active motion by the baby such as kicking and flailing, one point if there is some muscle tone, and zero points if the muscles are loose, floppy, and otherwise flaccid.


The reflexes test evaluates the baby’s response to stimuli such as mild pinching, poking, manipulating, and on their irritability and grimace response test. If there is a strong reaction such as grimacing or increasing into a more vigorous cry, as well as coughing or sneezing, two points are awarded to the baby. If the baby only grimaces one point is awarded. If there is no reaction from the baby, no points are awarded.


The skin color test assesses the color and shade of the baby’s skin to evaluate blood flow and oxygen saturation throughout the body. A lack of oxygen to the body generally causes a baby to turn a shade of blue or appear pale. Therefore, the baby is awarded two points if the entire body is pink, one point if the extremities are blue and the body is pink, and no points if the entire body is pale or blue.


Any zeroes in these scores could be a concern that should be brought to an Oregon birth injury lawyers’ attention because these could be signs of HIE.


Assessing the Apgar Scores


The Apgar score scale is graded 1-10.  A normal Apgar score is either seven, eight, or nine. A score of 10 is possible but very unlikely since most newborns lose at least one point for blue hands and feet which is perfectly normal right after birth.


Any score lower than a seven means that a baby requires immediate medical attention. Generally, this means that the baby either had a difficult labor and delivery or the baby is not adjusting well outside of the mother’s womb. This means that medical staff must intervene in whatever areas the baby is struggling in the most. Breathing and heart rate are the two most important factors to assist a baby with because it ensures oxygenated blood is being sent to the brain. If a baby’s brain is not receiving oxygenated blood it could cause serious and catastrophic birth injuries such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.


Why Low Apgar Scores Could Mean HIE


Low Apgar scores generally means that baby has suffered some sort of trauma or difficulty in the labor and delivery process or birthing process. While most Apgar scores at one minute are lower than normal, most babies have a normal Apgar score by five minutes. While a low Apgar score does not necessarily mean that a child has some type of birth injury, if medical staff are telling a family that the baby has had no birth injuries and has no birth trauma but there is a low Apgar score, a family should be suspicious. 


In this situation it may be a good idea to ask in Oregon birth injury lawyer to take a look at the medical records. This is particularly because catastrophic birth injuries like hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy are not going to be regularly admitted to by healthcare providers who may have made preventable medical errors. Essentially, there is no would little incentive for healthcare providers to risk their livelihood and license by admitting to mistakes that they could potentially hide and blame on natural consequences of birth.


Any Child Diagnosed with HIE Should Ask our Oregon Birth Injury Lawyers for a Review


If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover. 


Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.  


We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.  


Please act quickly, there is a limited time (Statute of Limitations) in which you can bring a claim under the law.

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