Erb’s palsy is the name given to a set of conditions that develop when the nerves that control the arm are damaged. Nerves travel from the brain and through the spine to terminal points throughout the body. The nerves that travel through spinal sections C5, C6, and C7 converge near the neck to create the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus consists of the upper and the lower brachial plexus. The upper brachial plexus controls the shoulder and arm, whereas the lower brachial controls parts of the chest and torso.
Damage to the upper brachial plexus is what causes Erb’s palsy. However, even here it matters which part of the upper brachial plexus is damaged when determining the health issues or disabilities that a patient will face. Damage to the nerves in spinal sections C5 and C6 can lead to arm and shoulder issues, whereas damage to the nerves in spinal section C7 can cause issues with the fingers. If your child was diagnosed with Erb’s palsy or exhibits weakness or paralysis of any type in the arm, contact our Worcester Erb’s palsy lawyer at (800) 222-9529.
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Understanding Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy has a fairly high incidence rate at about two out of every 1,000 births. Since it is caused by nerve damage, anything can cause it, including but not limited to vehicle accidents, violence, child abuse, surgical errors, slips and falls, sports injuries, and medical malpractice. In the context of children and newborns who are diagnosed with the condition, Erb’s palsy usually occurs when a baby becomes stuck inside the mother and must be forced out by the delivery team. The improper use of force or assistive devices can lead to nerve damage and Erb’s palsy.
Because Erb’s palsy manifests as physical disabilities of some sort, it can sometimes be diagnosed as soon as a baby is born. Some of the more common signs of Erb’s palsy are listed below:
- Issues with moving the arm, or parts of the arm in specific ways
- Pain or limited feeling in the arms or tingling in the fingers
- Varying degrees of paralysis or weakness in the arm
- A loss of muscle volume–a condition known as muscle atrophy
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The most common causes of Erb’s palsy are as below:
- If a baby’s arms are raised or twisted while the baby is still inside the mother
- If any part of the body is forcefully pulled on in any way
- If the head or neck is pushed too far to one side or another to dislodge the baby
- If the head appears but the shoulders are stuck behind. This is a condition called shoulder dystocia.
- Large fetal size can cause issues with a delivery that force the delivery team to perform an emergency extraction, and emergency procedures of any type can lead to nerve damage
- Small maternal size in proportion to the mother can also be an issue.
Whilst some of these risk factors are natural and beyond the control of the doctor or the medical care team, the skills, experience, knowledge, and preparedness of the delivery team can also contribute to a birth injury. There are many symptoms of birth injuries and Erb’s palsy that can be directly linked to caregiver actions or inaction and these are the cases in which you may have grounds for filing a medical malpractice suit against those at-fault parties responsible for harming your child.
You must also remember that there may be more than one at-fault party in a medical malpractice case. A doctor and members of the delivery team are obvious parties that may shoulder some of the blame for a birth injury, but a hospital or a member of administration may also be guilty of serious oversights, human errors, or administrative errors that lead to medical errors and bodily harm. Contact our Worcester Erb’s palsy lawyer to learn more about determining fault for birth injuries and what kinds of evidence are needed to build a case.
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Treatments and Prognosis
The first step in treating Erb’s palsy is determining where, how, and to what extent the brachial plexus was injured or damaged. Based on test results, your child may require only noninvasive treatments such as therapy and exercise. Severe cases of nerve damage may require surgical procedures to reattach or regrow nerves in a damaged target area. Medications may also be required to help control some of the side effects of Erb’s palsy which include shaking, jerky movements, or hampered motor control.
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The Medical Duty of Care
We expect healthcare professionals–not just doctors and nurses but pharmacy staff, administrative staff, and other caregivers–to have the skills, knowledge, expertise, and experience needed to do their jobs safely and effectively. Everyone involved in a child’s birth or delivery has a role to play, and they must execute their duties with a high level of skill, compassion, and ability. Failing to do this is tantamount to negligence and can lead to serious bodily harm for your child and civil charges against the at-fault party guilty of negligence.
For example, doctors must screen and test their patients for potential health hazards and monitor a fetus for signs of distress. They must also make emergency decisions if an issue arises. Nurses are expected to perform their duties with skill as well, and nurse errors can lead to serious physical injuries to a child, especially during birth and right after birth. Even cleaning and maintenance staff have a role to play. If a delivery room or surgery room is not properly cleaned or disinfected, then contamination and infections can develop.
Based on how and where an instance of negligence or distraction occurred, we can help you build a case for damages and will help you file your claim with the right courts. We will also represent you and handle all negotiations on your behalf, from the moment you file your claim until an ultimate decision is made regarding your case.
Call for Legal Assistance Today
Do not hesitate to seek professional legal help. We are just a call away and we do not charge any legal fees unless you win your claim. Our services are provided on a no-win, no-fee basis, so call today with confidence and one of our seasoned injury attorneys at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group will handle your case on your behalf. Contact us now at (800) 222-9529 to connect with a Worcester Erb’s palsy lawyer and to get started on your claim for damages.
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