When a child is born with brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy), it is a traumatic event for the new parents who expected to return home with a healthy newborn. This medical condition is caused by injuries suffered at birth often due to medical negligence (carelessness) on the part of the obstetrician or a member of the medical team who may have also chosen not to carry out a Cesarean section (C-section). In many cases, brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) leaves a child with lifelong disabilities.
Brachial plexus palsy or Erb’s palsy is caused by an injury to the nerves of the brachial plexus – a network of nerves that helps the brain control the muscles of the arm, shoulder and neck. When a mother undergoes a complicated labor, the child may end up getting stuck in the birth canal and suffer injury to these nerves as the obstetrician tries to free him or her.
When the nerves of the brachial plexus are damaged or torn, the brain is no longer able to connect to the nerves, which in turn stops the arm, shoulder and/or neck from functioning correctly. The important fact to remember is that a child is not naturally born with this condition. When a child suffers brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) during birth, it means that he or she suffered a specific injury to the nerves of the brachial plexus during birth.
Liability for Preventable Mistakes
If your child has developed brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy) after birth, you may have grounds for a birth injury lawsuit and seek compensation for the doctor’s mistake and/or negligence (carelessness) on the part of the medical team or hospital that may have caused the nerve injury. Such preventable mistakes may include:
• Failure to diagnose: There are a number of risk factors that may lead to a nerve injury during birth. For example, if the child is larger than average, then that is a risk for a prolonged labor. If the child is in breech position (feet-first instead of head-first), that is a high-risk situation and may lead to complications during birth. It is a doctor’s responsibility to assess the situation and select the best course of action for the patient.
• Delayed emergency C-section: It is the responsibility of the doctor and medical team to carefully monitor mother and child for any signs of distress. If a labor is not progressing as it should, an emergency C-section may become necessary. Prolonged labor is one of the main reasons for injury that leads to brachial plexus palsy or Erb’s palsy, and this can often be prevented by performing an emergency C-section. If a mother has any risk factors that may lead to a crisis situation during labor, a doctor should schedule a C-section instead of advising the mother to opt for a vaginal birth.
• Improper use of birth-assistive tools: When the labor gets difficult and a child gets stuck in the birth canal, an obstetrician may attempt to get the child out by using birth-assistive devices such as forceps or vacuum extractors. While these tools may be helpful in some cases, in the hands of an incompetent doctor, they may become truly destructive. When a doctor applies excessive force while using these tools and when he or she tugs or pulls at the child’s arm or shoulder, there is a heightened risk of injuring the nerves of the brachial plexus. These are injuries that can often be prevented with care and attention.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If your child has Brachial plexus palsy (Erb’s palsy), he or she may be able to receive compensation that helps pay for medical expenses, lost income, cost of therapy, future treatments, 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 $1,846,000 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
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