The birth of a child is usually a joyous occasion for families. However, there are times when such occasions are marred by things that go wrong during labor and delivery. Birth injuries cause tremendous stress and long-term hardship for families. Brachial plexus injury or Erb’s palsy is one of the most common birth injuries sustained by infants in the United States. However, not many parents know that this debilitating condition, which can leave children permanently disabled, can actually be prevented by competent and vigilant medical professionals. Often, Erb’s palsy is caused by the carelessness and negligence of one or more medical professionals.
Understanding Erb’s Palsy
According to the Mayo Clinic, Erb’s palsy occurs as the result of injury to the nerves of the brachial plexus, which is a network of nerves near the neck that branch out to all of the nerves in the arm. During birth, when a baby’s shoulder becomes stuck against the mother’s pelvis and the doctor uses force to get the baby out, the neck may be stretched too far and tear the nerves causing permanent damage.
The result may be a palsy (weakening) of the arms, hands and fingers on the side where the nerve damage occurred. In the worst cases, the child’s nerves are irreparably damaged causing paralysis or permanent disability. A child who is diagnosed with Erb’s palsy may have a few treatment options such as physical therapy or surgery. But all of these options may be extremely costly and may not work and the anticipated outcome may be devastating for families.
How Erb’s Palsy Can Be Prevented
The factors and circumstances involved in each Erb’s palsy case are unique. However, in many cases, it appears that medical professionals may not have done enough to prevent these debilitating injuries. Here are some of the steps your care providers should be taking to prevent Erb’s palsy.
Conducting tests: Your doctor should run necessary tests in order to assess your baby’s health, size and position before birth. This often helps determine the safest way for delivery of the baby. The information gleaned through prenatal screening can be critical in determining the best course of action.
Execution: When a vaginal delivery is in progress and the child appears to be in distress, the doctor should always avoid using excessive force while getting the baby out. It is common in such cases for obstetricians to use birth-assistive tools such as forceps and vacuum extractors. When this is required, a competent doctor will be able to use the right amount of force so no injury or damage occurs.
Cesarean Sections (C-Sections): There are a number of complications that may warrant a C-section. For example, if the baby is larger than average, your doctor should be able to anticipate difficulty and/or problems during delivery. In such cases, a C-section might be the safest option. Similarly, a baby in breech position (feet-first instead of head-first) is often a reason why a C-section should be done to prevent the baby from getting stuck in the birth canal. Many Erb’s palsy injury cases involve doctors who failed to perform C-sections or hospitals that lacked the ability to perform emergency C-sections when needed.
Contacting an Erb’s Palsy Lawyer
When Erb’s palsy occurs as a result of medical negligence, families may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit seeking compensation for damages. If your child has suffered an arm injury at birth or has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy as a result of medical negligence, you may be able to file a birth injury lawsuit seeking compensation for damages including, but not limited to, medical expenses, lost income and benefits, loss of livelihood, hospital and rehabilitation costs, permanent injuries, disabilities, past and future pain and suffering, etc.
The experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. One of our clients secured a $2,850,000 verdict that was reduced by the appeals court to $1,850,000 because the verdict was so large. This was the highest amount upheld by the appellate courts for many, many years. In addition we recovered $1,400,000 for a newborn who lost motion in the arm during birth due to the doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head.
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