Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves putting the patient into a pressurized chamber to help speed the healing of damaged tissue or help push extra oxygen into their system. This procedure is indicated for many purposes, but its use for newborns is quite rare in the United States. Still, your doctor’s suggestion to use a hyperbaric oxygen tank to treat your child is incredibly telling and might signal that there was deeper injury or negligence.
If your doctor recommends treating your child with a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, talk to an Arkansas birth injury attorney about the treatment and potential underlying birth injuries. Fayetteville AR birth injury lawyer Ken Kieklak explains some of the potential implications and issues you can sue for related to hyperbaric oxygen treatment for an infant.
Are Hyperbaric Chambers Used to Treat Birth Injuries?
Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are commonly used to treat hypoxia – a lack of oxygen to the brain. In this treatment, oxygen is pumped into the chamber, which is pressurized to help the body absorb more oxygen, potentially correcting some of the damage from hypoxia. Some doctors use this treatment to help an infant who suffered injuries during their birth that cut off their oxygen supply and caused potential brain damage from the lack of oxygen.
Hypoxia and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy are common side effects of many birth injuries. One way the baby may lose access to oxygen during birth is if their umbilical cord is wrapped around the neck. This is called a “nuchal cord” and may occur if a baby moves a lot in the womb or has a long umbilical cord. Suffocation and strangulation might also occur if the baby has trouble coming out, the baby is breech, the child is large, or if the birth canal is very narrow. If a doctor waits too long without trying to use forceps or ordering a C-section, the baby could face brain damage, which the doctor may attempt to repair with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Just because these injuries occurred does not automatically mean that the doctor was at-fault for the injuries. Sometimes, deliveries are difficult, and even the most skilled physician will not be able to avoid injury with our current medical science. However, this is uncommon; in reality, many cases of brain injury and suffocation occur because of a doctor’s errors in judgment that fell below the standard of care.
Are Hyperbaric Chambers Safe for Babies?
There have not been sufficient studies on the effectiveness of treating infants with hyperbaric chambers. While a “dive” in a hyperbaric chamber is inarguably helpful in treating some injuries, and it is commonly used for infants in Russia and China, there is not enough data using infant patients in the United States to show that this treatment is helpful.
However, this does not mean the treatment is dangerous. The hyperbaric treatment itself is not necessarily the thing that should concern you, and its use might actually help to get oxygen back in your child’s system and reverse some of the effects of the birth injury. If there are complications with this treatment or the treatment was unnecessarily dangerous, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit for the negligent hyperbaric treatment.
Damages for Birth Injuries in Arkansas
If your child suffered birth injuries that required using a hyperbaric chamber, you may be entitled to sue for damages. Any damages that the doctor’s negligence caused can be included in the lawsuit, which might mean suing for damages that you might never have considered a possibility.
Typically, injury lawsuits include claims for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If your child does undergo hyperbaric chamber therapy and other medical procedures and therapies for their injury, the cost of those treatments should be included as part of the damages in your lawsuit. Similarly, pain and suffering damages are likely present if your child’s brain injuries cause developmental disorders like cerebral palsy or other disorders that might involve pain, discomfort, and mental or emotional distress.
You might think that since your child obviously does not have a job, claims for lost wages would not apply to your case. Fortunately for your child, claims for future lost wages might be included in your claim. If your child’s injuries lead to permanent disabilities or ongoing developmental disorders, your child’s future ability to work might be limited. Medical experts and financial experts can be used to project the future cost of lost wages and reduced earning capacity, and you can claim those damages now as part of your lawsuit against their negligent healthcare providers.
Typically, the lawsuit you bring is filed against the at-fault doctor and hospital directly. These parties might be able to afford some damages, but the ultimate payor in most cases is the medical malpractice insurance company. They may try to undervalue your case to save money or deny payments at their full value unless you can achieve a judgment in your favor in court. Talk to a Fayetteville medical malpractice lawyer about what your case is worth and how to file a lawsuit to maximize the damages you can receive.
Call Our Arkansas Birth Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If your child suffered birth injuries in Arkansas, call Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak today. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, offers free legal consultations to the parents and family of birth injury victims and works to get the injured child and their family the financial compensation they deserve. For help with your potential case, call our law offices today at (479) 439-1843.