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With a unique level of insight and experience, our Washington, D.C. kernicterus birth injury lawyers have recovered more than $100 million for deserving clients.

Washington, D.C. Kernicterus Birth Injury Lawyers

Baby after birth

Kernicterus is a condition caused by severe jaundice due to increased bilirubin levels in a newborn’s blood. When bilirubin builds to very high levels, it can spread to the infant’s brain tissue, resulting in permanent brain and spinal cord damage if untreated.

According to the CDC, approximately 60 percent of newborns have some form of jaundice due to a low-level buildup of bilirubin that causes yellowing of the skin and eyes. In utero, the mother’s body filters and removes any extra bilirubin during pregnancy. After birth, the newborn’s liver typically rids the body of the extra bilirubin within a few days. If the liver cannot metabolize sufficient bilirubin, brain damage can occur, resulting in neurological disabilities and dysfunction.

What Are the Risk Factors of Kernicterus?

There is no medical understanding of why some infants develop excessive jaundice and others do not, though there are a few known risk factors that may lead to increased levels of bilirubin, such as:

  • Incompatible blood types between mother and infant
  • Bruising and bleeding under the skin
  • Premature birth
  • Infection
  • Genetic factors, such as glucose deficiency
  • Ethnicity of Asian or Mediterranean descent
  • Siblings with jaundice at birth
  • Non-optimal feeding or suckling

What Are the Symptoms of Kernicterus?

Kernicterus requires a physician’s diagnosis through a physical exam and blood test to measure the bilirubin levels. Babies with kernicterus may exhibit symptoms, including but not limited to:

  • Abnormally high-pitched cry
  • Abnormal muscle flexibility
  • Arching of the head or back
  • Dehydration
  • Difficulty eating
  • Difficulty waking
  • Fever
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Increased fussiness
  • Lack of urine output
  • Lethargy
  • Not feeding well
  • Poor muscle tone

Infants with kernicterus may have already suffered brain damage before diagnosis and exhibit additional symptoms, such as:

  • Distorted facial features
  • Inability to move or focus the eyes
  • Intense crying
  • Lack of muscle control
  • Misshapen or twisted spine
  • Neck stiffness
  • Overly large forehead
  • Seizures

What Injuries Are Caused by Kernicterus?

The CDC reports that no infant should ever develop brain damage from untreated jaundice, as the condition is easily detectable and treatable. With careful monitoring of jaundice symptoms and an understanding of the potential risk hazards, kernicterus is entirely preventable. If kernicterus develops, it can result in devastating, lifelong injuries, such as:

  • Cognitive impairment: Kernicterus can cause mild to severe cognitive impairments that result in difficulty learning, concentrating, remembering, and making daily life decisions.
  • Severe neurological damage: In some instances, kernicterus can cause severe and fatal neurological damage.
  • Cerebral palsy and other brain damage: Kernicterus bilirubin has a neurotoxic effect on the brain, impairing the nervous system’s ability to function properly. Kernicterus can cause permanent motor deficiencies, such as lack of coordination, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, deafness, and impaired eye movement.

How Is Kernicterus Treated?

Kernicterus is a permanent form of brain damage and is not curable. There are no effective treatments once an infant’s brain cells are damaged. Depending on the severity, kernicterus can be managed if the symptoms are recognized and immediately treated with bilirubin light phototherapy, intravenous hydration, feeding tubes, blood tests, and possible blood transfusions.

Infants who have already developed kernicterus and permanent brain damage require further treatment, such as surgeries, anti-seizure medication, sedatives, muscle relaxers, and occupational and physical therapy to learn day-to-day functions.

How Is Kernicterus Caused by Medical Malpractice?

Kernicterus is avoidable if medical professionals recognize the potential risks and take steps to avoid an excessive buildup of bilirubin. Medical professionals should be able to visually distinguish between mild and severe jaundice, evaluate the risk factors, and test bilirubin levels in infants displaying apparent signs of jaundice. Some common negligent actions that can result in an infant’s developing kernicterus include:

  • Failure to perform necessary bilirubin testing.
  • Not properly examining the infant for signs and symptoms.
  • Delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose.
  • Failing to recognize jaundice versus kernicterus.
  • Failing to monitor the infant properly.
  • Delaying and not providing treatment.
  • Incorrect dosage or administration of phototherapy.
  • Failing to provide adequate follow-up care.
  • Lack of physician training or understanding of the condition.
  • Mixing patient lab reports.

Can I Seek Compensation for My Baby’s Kernicterus Condition?

Kernicterus requires immediate medical intervention, including hospital stays, diagnostic testing, and specialized treatment. Children with kernicterus require ongoing and often lifelong medical and rehabilitative care and supervision to monitor bilirubin levels and address developmental, mobility, and sensory issues. Compensation is based on a combination of economic and non-economic damages to cover actual expenses and intangible losses, including but not limited to:

  • Current and future medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation and therapies
  • Disability
  • Assistive devices
  • Emotional distress
  • Home modification
  • Medications
  • Caregiver costs
  • In-home medical assistance
  • Lost wages and future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death

Compensation is essential for helping families with the expenses and challenges associated with caring for a child with lifelong cognitive impairment and disabilities. If your child has suffered permanent birth injuries due to medical malpractice, you may be entitled to pursue legal action against the healthcare professionals responsible.

Is There a Deadline for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim?

In Washington, D.C., the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is three years from the date of the injury or the date the injury or symptoms were first discovered.

Why Should I Hire the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates?

The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates stands out as a unique medical malpractice law firm catering to patients across the Washington, D.C., region. Principal Attorney Michael Wilson is both a lawyer and a physician, having earned degrees in law and medicine from Georgetown University. Dr. Wilson’s distinctive background equips him to vigorously pursue medical malpractice cases on behalf of individuals and families impacted by the negligence of healthcare providers. Widely esteemed for his adept handling of intricate cases, Dr. Wilson’s knowledge extends not only throughout the District but also nationally and internationally.

While conventional personal injury law firms often rely on external medical experts to handle medical malpractice claims, Dr. Wilson’s dual experience enables him to dissect complex legal and medical intricacies concurrently, minimizing the risk of miscommunication. This unique advantage frequently proves advantageous to our firm’s clients.

With over three decades of legal experience, Dr. Wilson’s blend of medical insight and legal acumen has resulted in a remarkable track record, securing over $100 million in compensation for patients and their families.

Our Washington, D.C. Kernicterus Birth Injury Lawyers at the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates Fight for Infants Harmed by Medical Malpractice

Kernicterus is a preventable and permanent condition that causes severe brain damage and lifelong complications and disabilities. If your child has suffered permanent kernicterus injuries due to medical negligence, our Washington, D.C. kernicterus birth injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates can help. Call us today at 202-223-4488 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Washington, D.C., we serve clients in Northern Virginia and Maryland.

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