The nerves in the spine travel between the brain, the spine, and various endpoints throughout the body. Any physical or physiological damage that occurs anywhere along these nerves can cause pain at the point of injury and issues with sensation and body functions in the endpoints. This is how Erb’s palsy develops. The brachial plexus, which is an important bundle of nerves near the neck, controls sensation and motor functions in the arm, and it contains Erb’s point, which is where many of the nerves that travel to the arm from the spine converge.
Any damage to this part of the brachial plexus can cause paralysis, weakness, and pain in the arm, and these are the conditions that are defined as Erb’s palsy. Was your child diagnosed with a birth injury? Was he or she delivered in a complicated or emergency delivery? If yes, or if he or she exhibits any of the telltale signs of Erb’s palsy, speak with an attorney at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group. We help patients and families suffering from birth injuries understand, plan for, and hopefully overcome the challenges they face. Call us at (800) 222-9529.
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Causes of Erb’s Palsy
As mentioned above, damage of any kind to the brachial plexus will result in neurological and nerve issues of some sort. Where and how badly a patient sustains nerve damage will determine the symptoms that the patient suffers.
Common causes of nerve damage that can cause Erb’s palsy include:
- Pulling or pushing on a baby’s head to remove it from the mother
- Shoulder dystocia, which is when a baby becomes stuck behind the mother’s pelvis
- Breech deliveries
- Genetic defects
- Doctor and treatment errors
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The symptoms of Erb’s palsy fall on a continuum of health issues that can be as mild as awkwardness or clumsiness while walking to a complete inability of the patient to move or use the affected arm. For most patients, however, the nerve damage sustained during childbirth is mild. Common types of birth-related nerve damage include nerve stretching, which is called neuropraxia, and nerve pinching from, for example, scar tissue left behind by a healed nerve. This is called a neuroma.
Serious nerve damage involving torn, ruptured, or avulsed nerves, which is when a nerve completely separates from the spine, can lead to more pronounced symptoms such as sensitivity, weakness, or extensive paralysis of all or part of the arm.
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Delivery Room Negligence
Why and how do the causes and risk factors associated with Erb’s palsy occur? Aren’t doctors and medical staff trained to handle emergencies and deliver a high level of care?
The answer to these questions is obviously yes, but mistakes can always happen, and there are many factors that doctors may not be able to plan for. Consider a baby that grows to be very large as a result of gestational diabetes, which is a fairly common condition, and becomes stuck in the birth canal during delivery. The medical team may be compelled to use force to extract the baby from the mother, and the baby may suffer from shoulder dystocia as a result.
Taking another example of a breech birth; placental detachment or umbilical cord issues may arise, requiring an expedited emergency delivery to prevent brain damage and oxygen loss in the baby but may lead to nerve damage.
In both of these examples, one component of the child’s injuries is beyond the control of the doctor. It may not be possible to completely prevent a baby from naturally developing gestational diabetes if he or she is genetically predisposed to doing so. Likewise, issues with the placenta and umbilical cord can be hard to prevent.
However, what your child’s medical team can test for is the large baby size and the position of the baby before birth so that preparations for an emergency C-section, if required, could be made, or staff with experience handling shoulder dystocia could be called on in advance to lower the risks of injury.
If there are identifiable factors that your child’s doctor should have but did not test or screen for, that is when he or she may be guilty of negligence and held liable for any damages that result. Other examples of negligence include inattention to signs of fetal distress, a failure to perform or correctly interpret the results of diagnostics, delayed diagnoses, and misdiagnoses. Administrative and medication errors leading to injuries are also classified as negligence.
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To win compensation for a birth injury, you must prove that your child’s doctor did not meet the standard of care, which is a general baseline established by the medical community. It defines what competent medical care looks like in different settings. Not meeting the standard of care essentially labels a doctor, nurse, or another healthcare practitioner as incompetent, and this incompetence can be grounds for seeking compensation.
Some of the cost categories that may be compensable when it comes to Erb’s palsy include:
- The costs of surgery, medications, treatments, and therapy.
- The costs of assistive devices and home improvements designed to help the injured child get around the house more easily.
- Lost income from missing work while attending to your injured child.
These costs can add up to a substantial figure, so you must seek compensation for all direct and indirect costs you are made to suffer from the negligence of your child’s doctor or care team.
Expert Legal Assistance
Our team of experienced birth injury lawyers is just a call away. The Birth Injury Lawyers Group has helped countless families find the care and treatment their loved ones need. We also help families afflicted with a birth injury–whether serious or mild–collect the evidence needed to prove negligence and file a malpractice lawsuit against the at-fault parties responsible for the damages in question.
Call us right away at (800) 222-9529 to speak with our team. We charge nothing until we win your case and we will help you manage your child’s Erb’s palsy case and negotiate with the at-fault parties identified in your lawsuit should they wish to discuss a settlement with you. Do not delay and call now.