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Erb’s Palsy

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Erb’s Palsy

Birth Injury Lawyer Services
Shoulder Dystocia/Erb’s Palsy/Brachial Plexus

The birth of a baby is usually a joyous occasion. However, sometimes the birthing process does not go as planned because a doctor commits negligence during the birthing process. A doctor is negligent when he or she fails to use the degree of skill and learning ordinarily used under the same or similar circumstances by members of their profession.

When the baby is too large to pass through the mother’s pelvis, his or her shoulder may become lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone after the head has been delivered. This is called shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia means, in the most simplest terms, that it’s difficult to deliver the shoulders. In the event of shoulder dystocia, the doctor can support the head of the baby and apply a small amount of traction during the dislodging maneuvers. When the doctor uses excessive traction on the head while the baby’s shoulder remains stuck, the Brachial Plexus nerves in the baby may suffer injury.

Erb’s Palsy is a type injury that may occur to the Brachial Plexus during birthing process. The Brachial Plexus is a network of nerves that run from the spine through the shoulder and to the tips of the fingers. Brachial means arm, and Plexus refers to a network of nerves. The Brachial Plexus conducts signals from the spine to the arm and hand. These signals cause the arm and hand muscles to move.

Children with Brachial Plexus injuries are affected in different ways. Here are some examples:

  1. Some children have no muscle control and no feeling in the arm or hand.
  2. Some children can move their arms, but have little control over the wrist and hand.
  3. Other children can use their hands well but cannot use the shoulder or elbow muscles.

There are several things doctors can do to decrease the risk of an Erb’s Palsy during birth. If the doctor sees that the baby is not properly aligned, the doctor should use appropriate techniques to prevent the shoulder from getting caught. There are numerous techniques doctors know to prevent the shoulder from getting caught. For example, if the shoulder or the baby is gently shifted, the risk of the shoulder getting caught can be greatly reduced. Or, the doctor could press down on the mother’s belly to push the baby’s shoulder into the correct position.

Many Erb’s Palsy cases are the result of negligence and parents should consider the possibility that a doctor may not have done all that is possible to prevent Erb’s Palsy and at least request some form of inquiry. Erb’s Palsy medical negligence cases usually involve one or more of the following issues:

  1. Failure to estimate the baby’s weight before delivery.
  2. Failure to perform a cesarean section.
  3. Failure to diagnose and treat gestational diabetes.
  4. Failure to inform parents of the risks inherent in vaginally delivering a large infant.
  5. Failure to perform appropriate delivery techniques to manage shoulder dystocia.
  6. Applying unnecessary and excessive force during the delivery.
  7. Applying inappropriate delivery techniques to manage shoulder dystocia.

The long-term goals for a child with a Brachial Plexus injury are to be able to have partial or full use of an affected arm or a hand. Treatment for Brachial Plexus injuries can include exercise, physical therapy and surgery. In the case of a Brachial Plexus injury, damages that can be awarded by a jury may include, among other things, medical expenses for past, present and future treatment, pain and suffering, and loss of future earnings for a babies entire life expectancy.

Please remember that each jurisdiction has different laws pertaining to these types of claims, so it is important to seek out competent counsel to advise you of your rights. As a rule, however, birth injury cases are difficult, as they are complex and time-consuming. These types of cases take longer to resolve than a simple negligence case, and always require expert investigation and testimony. If you believe a doctor’s error may have caused your baby’s Erb’s Palsy it is crucial to obtain a knowledgeable attorney to advise you of your rights and of the rights of your baby.

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