The joy experienced when you welcome a newborn can turn to fear if your infant suffers a birth injury. Birth injuries are one of the most common reasons people file medical malpractice suits in the United States.
It’s natural to be in shock if your newborn suffers an intraventricular hemorrhage birth injury. You may not understand the nature of the injury, what caused it, or what it means for your child’s future. Learning about this condition, the common causes of an intraventricular hemorrhage, and how a birth injury attorney can help will ensure you understand your options and how to seek justice if your newborn’s intraventricular hemorrhage was preventable.
What is an intraventricular hemorrhage?
The four ventricles in the brain hold cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is crucial in promoting brain health because it nourishes the brain and prevents waste buildup. Brain ventricles support the body’s central nervous system (CNS), enabling the central nervous system to process information transferred to the brain from the body’s nerves. It regulates bodily functions, responding to the input it receives. For example, if your hand is too close to a hot burner, your nerves relay that information to your CNS, prompting you to move your hand away.
Cerebrospinal fluid protects the brain by absorbing shock, maintaining the brain’s temperature, and regulating the amount of intracranial pressure in the brain.
When an infant suffers an IVH, they have a brain bleed affecting their brain ventricles. These brain bleeds can occur inside or outside the ventricles. The brain bleed increases the intracranial pressure. The pressure can damage the brain’s nerve cells, resulting in a brain injury.
Why is an intraventricular hemorrhage a serious concern?
An IVH can cause severe, permanent injuries. The symptoms and prognosis depend on the severity of the IVH. Medical professionals grade IVHs on a scale of one to four, with four being the most severe.
- Grade one IVH: A grade one IVH is the least severe IVH, affecting a small area. Since the affected area is small, the pressure typically doesn’t increase enough to cause permanent damage.
- Grade two IVH: The bleeding occurs inside the ventricles with a grade two IVH. It’s still possible to avoid the most severe symptoms and make a full recovery; however, there’s still a risk of death or hydrocephalus.
- Grade three IVH: A grade three IVH produces enough blood to enlarge the brain’s ventricles, increasing the intracranial pressure and the risk of a brain injury.
- Grade four IVH: With a grade four IVH, the bleeding affects the ventricles and brain tissue. Grade four IVHs produce the highest volume of blood and the greatest amount of intracranial pressure, which can cause a permanent brain injury.
Although newborns with grade one or grade two IVHs may fully recover, infants with a grade three or four IVH are more likely to suffer permanent damage. Treatment options for newborns are limited. In severe cases, excess fluid is drained through a shunt, which requires surgery.
Long-term symptoms of an IVH can include the following:
- Developmental issues: Infants affected by an IVH may suffer from poor muscle development, motor delays, hearing impairments, visual issues, and other physical developmental issues.
- Hydrocephalus: A brain bleed can trap the cerebrospinal fluid. Trapped CSF increases the pressure in the brain. Hydrocephalus can cause long-term brain injuries or death.
- Long-term brain injury: Newborns affected by an IVH may suffer from permanent brain damage. IVH can cause seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, and neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI).
IVH poses a high risk of death. A study focusing on premature babies with IVH found that the mortality rate for infants with a grade two IVH was 10%. The mortality rate for infants with a grade three IVH can be as high as 50%. Sadly, more than half the infants involved in the study died.
Causes of neonatal intracranial hemorrhage
Intracranial hemorrhage is an umbrella term used to refer to any brain bleed. IVH is one type of intracranial hemorrhage.
There are several potential causes of an IVH, including the following:
- Birth weight below 3 pounds 5 ounces
- Blood clotting issues
- Breathing disorders
- Complications during labor
- Complications during delivery
- Genetic predisposition
- Head trauma
- Hypertension in mother
- Infection in mother
- Premature delivery
- Shaken baby
Medical malpractice and IVH
Some IVH causes can involve medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional’s negligence causes injury or death. Examples of medical negligence causing an IVH include the following:
- Applying too much pressure with forceps
- Causing head trauma
- Failing to perform a cesarean section to prevent complications during delivery
- Not diagnosing and treating hypertension in the mother during pregnancy
- Not diagnosing and treating infection in the mother during pregnancy
- Not using corticosteroid medicines to prevent premature delivery
- Pressure during vacuum extraction
Signs and symptoms of intraventricular hemorrhage
Newborns with an IVH may display some or all of the following symptoms:
- Abnormal eye movement
- Apnea of prematurity
- Blue skin tone
- Decreased muscle tone and reflexes
- Difficulty sucking
- High-pitched crying
- Swollen fontanelles
Can you sue for medical malpractice resulting in an intraventricular hemorrhage?
Suppose a doctor’s error contributes to or causes a traumatic birth, resulting in an IVH. In that case, you can pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. Pursuing a lawsuit can be an effective way to achieve the following:
- Access funds needed to pay for medical bills stemming from the IVH and any long-term damage
- Prompt medical facilities and professionals to take steps to avoid preventable IVHs
- Provide a sense of justice after the trauma of an IVH
How can an experienced birth injury lawyer help?
Experienced birth injury lawyers are legal specialists familiar with medical malpractice law. A birth injury lawyer can confirm you have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. Your attorney will perform the following tasks:
- Explain the legal process
- Prepare and file the lawsuit before the statute of limitations expire
- File a certificate of review no more than 60 days after filing the case
- Investigate your case
- Gather evidence
- Negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company
In most cases, Colorado gives medical malpractice victims 24 months to file a claim. However, some circumstances may extend the deadline to 36 months. If you fail to settle through negotiations, your attorney will present your case at trial.
Your attorney will also help you calculate the total damages you can seek. Medical malpractice victims can seek economic and non-economic damages. Colorado limits total damages in medical malpractice cases to $1 million and caps non-economic damages at $300,000.
Victims can seek economic damages to recover costs from expenses such as:
- Childcare costs
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost income
- Medical bills
- Transportation costs
Non-economic damages offer compensation for things like pain and suffering, grief, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Contact Elite Litigation Group if your child has suffered an intraventricular hemorrhage
Bachus & Schanker understand coping with a newborn’s IVH can be traumatic and have a long-term or permanent impact on your life. Welcoming a newborn should be a time of celebration, but coping with a birth injury can be expensive, stressful, and terrifying.
Our legal team will prepare your case so you can focus on your newborn. We don’t charge legal fees until we win your case, so you can get the help you deserve without worrying about legal bills.
Our Victim’s Advocate team assists with the investigation and ensures you get answers to your questions as your case progresses. Our team can also help you apply for financial assistance for expenses you’re facing while you wait for your settlement.
Call Bachus & Schanker at 303-222-2222 to schedule your free consultation today. We’ll fight to resolve your case and get justice for your newborn’s IVH.
Birth injury statistics. (2023).
Goguen, D. (2023). Colorado Medical Malpractice Laws.
Piccolo, B., et al. (2022). Intraventricular hemorrhage in preterm newborn: Predictors of mortality.
Telano, L.N. et al., (2023). Physiology, Cerebral Spinal Fluid.
Vega, J. (2023). What Are Brain Ventricles?
What is a head injury? (2023).
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