The causes of Erb’s palsy often stem from the result of a difficult birth or medical negligence. Learning the exact cause of your child’s Erb’s palsy may require you to obtain copies of their medical records or take other steps to find out what happened during their birth. Your medical malpractice birth injury attorney can help you navigate this process and build a case for compensation.
For a free legal consultation, call 1-800-222-9529
Failure to Take Action to Aid in a Difficult Birth
Brachial plexus injuries like Erb’s palsy are rare outside of difficult deliveries. When the second stage of labor (active labor) lasts longer than normal, the risk of Erb’s palsy greatly increases. A large baby, breech presentation, or abnormalities in the mother’s birth canal can all trigger circumstances where the baby’s neck is twisted or stretched too far, and they suffer this type of nerve damage.
In most of these cases, the doctor monitoring the pregnancy and delivering the baby can predict these complications and take steps to prevent injury. For example, if the baby appears too large to deliver vaginally, it may be necessary to perform a cesarean (C-section) delivery.
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Inappropriate Force During Delivery
Another common cause of Erb’s palsy and other brachial plexus nerve injuries is when someone helping to delivery the baby uses too much force or inappropriate force. This can stretch the baby’s neck, damaging the brachial plexus nerves. This may occur when a doctor tugs on the baby’s head or arm, or when using forceps or a vacuum extractor.
While sometimes applying some force is necessary to deliver the baby quickly, there are techniques that should be used to prevent injuries.
Diagnosing Erb’s Palsy in a Newborn
Because nerve damage at the brachial plexus occurs during birth and causes immediate paralysis of the affected area and other symptoms, it is often diagnosed at birth. Doctors, nurses, and others tasked with evaluating the health of the newborn may notice weak movements or a lack of movement in the affected arm. When the shoulder and bicep are affected, an Erb’s palsy diagnosis will likely follow.
If a nurse or other care provider notice these symptoms, they will bring it to the attention of a doctor. Alternatively, a baby’s pediatrician may notice symptoms. This prompts a physical examination of the baby. While a physical exam is generally thorough enough for an accurate Erb’s palsy diagnosis, the doctor may refer the baby for additional testing to rule out additional concerns. This may include:
- Other medical imaging
In some cases, the doctor will prescribe conservative treatment, at-home physical therapy exercises, and monitor the injury closely. If healing does not begin within a few weeks, they may then order medical imaging or additional testing.
Sometimes, doctors may want to send the baby for an electromyogram (EMG) or a nerve conduction study (NCS). These tests can help them understand the best course of action if the nerve does not appear to be healing on its own. Surgery may be necessary to get a more favorable outcome.
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Erb’s Palsy Is a Preventable Birth Injury in Many Cases
Many causes of Erb’s palsy are avoidable and may support a medical malpractice birth injury case. Many children born with brachial plexus injuries never fully recover. They may face weakness and complications in their affected arm for years to come. In some other cases, additional surgeries may be necessary to improve motor function or treat complications.
If your child received an Erb’s palsy diagnosis, your family may be eligible to take legal action and hold the doctor or hospital liable. To learn more, schedule a time to discuss your case with a birth injury lawyer. They can help you understand your options, build a case, and understand the time limits that may apply in your case. You could pursue damages that include:
- Medical care costs related to the injury
- Future medical care related to the injury
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Pain and suffering
Most medical malpractice birth injury attorneys offer free case reviews and take on these cases based on contingency. This means your family will pay nothing out of pocket for their services.
Discuss Your Child’s Erb’s Palsy With a Birth Injury Attorney Near You
If your child suffered Erb’s palsy or another brachial plexus birth injury, you may be able to take legal action on their behalf. The Birth Injury Lawyers Group can help you get help and a free case review.
Call (800) 222-9529 now for help reaching a medical malpractice birth injury attorney near you.