Our lawyers handle lawsuits involving anoxic brain injuries. Anoxic brain injuries can result from medical negligence, childbirth malpractice or a serious accident. Our firm is very familiar with the science of anoxic brain injuries.
What is an Anoxic Brain Injury?
The brain is the most important and complex organ in the human body. The brain controls everything in the body. The cells in the brain require a constant supply of oxygen. When deprived of oxygen, even for a short time, cells in the brain can die. Anoxia is a term meaning the absence of oxygen. Hypoxia is a related term meaning low or insufficient oxygen. An anoxic brain injury is damage to cells in the brain caused by total oxygen deprivation. The oxygen loss causes cells in the brain to die. The extent and severity of an anoxic brain injury will vary depending on how long the brain cells are deprived of oxygen. Once brain cells die they do not regenerate. An anoxic brain injury can result in permanent mental and physical disabilities.
How Long Can the Brain Go Without Oxygen?
The brain can go without oxygen for about 3-4 minutes. After the 4 minute mark without any oxygen, cells in the brain will start dying. Anoxic brain injury can result after 5 minutes without oxygen. Brain cells will continue dying until oxygen is restored so the longer the anoxia lasts the worse the injury will be. Death can result in just 5-6 minutes.
Causes of Anoxic Brain Injuries
Anoxic and hypoxic brain injuries are categorized into one of several groups depending on the specific cause of the cerebral anoxia.
- Anemic Anoxia: Normally, hemoglobin in your blood circulates oxygen to your brain and other organs. Anemic anoxia results when your blood fails to deliver oxygen to the brain.
- Toxic Anoxia: This type of anoxia occurs when certain types of toxins get into your body and interrupt the circulation of oxygen to the brain. Toxic anoxia is frequently caused by carbon monoxide and negligently administered anesthesia.
- Stagnant Anoxia: Also known as a hypoxic-ischemic injury, this anoxia results when something goes wrong inside your body and blocks the normal flow of blood (and oxygen) to your brain. Stagnant anoxia is frequently caused by cardiovascular events such as a stroke or heart attack.
- Anoxic Anoxia: This occurs when there is little or no oxygen available in the air that you are breathing.
Anoxic Brain Injuries During Childbirth
Anoxia and hypoxia are common dangers to a baby during childbirth. There are a host of conditions or complications during childbirth that interrupt the flow of oxygen to the baby. Some of the more common conditions include compression or twisting of the umbilical cord, prolapsed umbilical cord, maternal infections, and eclampsia. Doctors and hospital staff in the labor and delivery room are charged with monitoring for these complications and responding to them effectively when they arise.
Anoxic Brain Injury Settlements and Verdicts
The narrative summaries below are of verdicts and reported settlements in malpractice cases involving anoxic brain injuries. These summaries should be used for informational purposes only and not to value your own unique case. Because example cases, no matter how much they sound like yours, can not do that. But sample cases along with other tools can help you get a better handle on the range of likely possible outcomes in your case.
- Clayton v Somers (Pennsylvania 2016) $12.5 million: Plaintiff alleged that doctors and hospital removed her breathing tube prematurely following a tonsillectomy. Plaintiff was not able to breathe on her own but by the time she was re-intubated she had already suffered an anoxic brain injury.
- Brown v Southeastern Pain Specialists (Georgia 2015) $21.9 million: Plaintiff was getting an epidural steroid injection for back pain and was under IV sedation. During the procedure, her airway became blocked and doctors and staff failed to properly respond resulting in loss of oxygen to her brain. She eventually died from anoxic brain injury.
- Stephens v Red Rock Casino (Nevada 2013) $1.6 million: Plaintiff was at the Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas when he suffered a sudden heart attack. Casino staff called 911 but did not attempt CPR, chest compressions or use the AED device on site. Plaintiff sued the casino asserting that the failure to use the AED or provide other assistance in response caused interruption of oxygen resulting in anoxic brain injury.
- Simon v Harding Pharmacy (New Jersey 2011) $4.1 million: Plaintiff lost consciousness after taking the prescription drug Xanax at a party resulting in anoxic brain injury. The Xanax was given to plaintiff by a friend who stole it from the pharmacy where he worked. Plaintiff sued the pharmacy, the employee and others at the party and the case settled before trial.