Prolonged Labor and Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy): What You Need to Know

Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) which occurs when the nerves of the brachial plexus – a network of nerves near the neck that gives rise to all the nerves of the arm – are injured. These nerves provide movement and feeling to the shoulder, arm, hand and fingers. The word “palsy” means weakness. Brachial plexus palsy or Erb’s palsy causes arm weakness and loss of motion.

One or two out of every 1,000 babies have this condition. Erb’s palsy often occurs when an infant’s neck is stretched to the side during a prolonged labor or difficult delivery. In most cases, of brachial plexus birth palsy, the upper nerves are affected. The infant may not be able to move his or her shoulder.

Understanding Prolonged Labor

Prolonged labor is also known as “failure to progress” and it refers to labor and goes on for about 18 to 24 hours after regular contractions begin. Typically, first-time mothers are expected to be in labor for a longer period of time. So, labor that goes beyond 22 to 24 hours may be declared as prolonged labor. In other cases, labor that goes beyond 16 or 18 hours may be considered as prolonged.

There are several reasons why prolonged labor occurs. For example, a child that is larger than average may cause labor to take longer because of difficulty moving through the birth canal. A breech position, where the baby’s feet or buttocks are positioned to emerge first instead of the head, may also cause labor to be extended. Other common causes include the mother having an abnormally small pelvis, weak uterine contractions or severe stress or anxiety in the mother.

If labor is talking an unusually long time, the medical team should carefully monitor the mother’s condition and the fetal heart rate. In many cases steps need to be taken to speed up the process. If the baby is already in the birth canal, a doctor may use birth-assistive tools such as forceps or a vacuum extractor to pull the baby out.

Prolonged Labor and Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy)

There is no question that prolonged labor causes more stress to the mother and the baby and increases the risk of birth injuries including brachial plexus palsy. There are a number of things that may go wrong when labor is prolonged. The baby’s shoulder may get stuck in the mother’s pelvic area, a condition known as shoulder dystocia.

The nerves of the brachial plexus may become stretched and injured when the doctor attempts to pull out a child that is stuck. Improper use of birth assistive tools can also lead to brachial plexus injuries (Erb’s palsy). When risk factors for prolonged labor are present, it is important that a Cesarean section is considered to minimize the possibility of prolonged labor, which may lead to birth injuries.

The costs of caring for a child with Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) can add up very quickly. If your child’s injury was caused by medical negligence (carelessness), you will be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, cost of hospitalization, ongoing treatment and therapies, psychological counseling, permanent injuries, disabilities, loss of earnings, past and future pain and suffering, etc.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

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 $1,846,000 because the verdict was so large. This was the highest amount upheld by the appellate (appeals) 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 doctors applying incorrect force on the baby’s head. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.

We have seen many cases where New York City Health and Hospital Corporation facilities deliver babies who are born with cerebral palsy or brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) stemming from negligence (carelessness), and/or medical malpractice in the labor and delivery etc. of the children.

The following list identifies some of these hospitals (operated by New York City Health and Hospital Corporation):

• Jacobi Hospital aka Bronx Municipal 1400 Pelham Parkway South Bronx, New York 10461 718-918-5000
• Lincoln Hospital 234 East 149th Street Bronx, New York 10451 718-579-5000
• North Central Bronx Hospital 3424 Kossuth Avenue Bronx, New York 10467 718-519-5000
• Coney Island Hospital 2601 Ocean Parkway Brooklyn, New York 11235 718-616-3000
• Kings County Hospital 451 Clarkson Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11203 718-245-3131
• Woodhull Hospital 760 Broadway Brooklyn, New York 11206 718-963-8000
• Bellevue Hospital 462 First Avenue New York, New York 10016 212-562-5555
• Harlem Hospital 506 Lenox Avenue New York, New York 10037 212-939-1000
• Metropolitan Hospital 1901 First Avenue New York, New York 10029 212-423-6262
• Elmhurst Hospital 79-01 Broadway Elmhurst, New York 11373 718-334-4000
• Queens Hospital Center 82-68 164th Street Jamaica, New York 11432 718-883-3000

Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury and/or medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.

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