Erb’s palsy refers to a set of physical issues that result from damage to the brachial plexus, which is a system of nerves in the neck. Erb’s palsy is also known as Erb-Duchenne palsy after the doctors who discovered the condition. It is also sometimes referred to as a brachial plexus injury. It is the most commonly occurring type of birth-related neuropraxia, which is stretching of the nerves. In addition to stretched nerves, Erb’s palsy can also be caused by ruptured (torn) or avulsed (detached) nerves.
Shoulder dystocia is a common cause of Erb’s palsy. It occurs when a baby becomes stuck behind the mother’s pelvis. When this happens, the delivery team may push down on the neck of the baby to dislodge it from the mother. Doing this and widening the interval between the head and the shoulder can cause mild to severe trauma to the nerves in the neck. An El Paso Erb’s palsy lawyer can help you understand your legal case.
Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529 to learn more.
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Effects of Erb’s Palsy
The effects of Erb’s palsy and the symptoms that your child exhibits will depend on which part of the brachial plexus and which nerves were stretched, pinched, torn, or detached from their spinal roots. These types of injuries can happen to adults as well, but they are more common in newborns and young children.
For example, injuries to nerves that stem from sections C5 and C6 of the spine can affect the arm or shoulder, while damage to nerves in section C7 of the spine can cause issues with sensation and motor control in the fingers. These injuries sometimes resolve themselves within a few months, but extensive damage will require surgery for repair.
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Erb’s Palsy Treatment Costs
Most birth injuries require some form of treatment. Simply diagnosing your child can involve multiple rounds of tests, and if your child requires surgery, the cost can balloon quickly. Here are some of the items you may have to pay for while treating your child’s injuries:
- Checkup costs
- Tests and scans
- Blood tests
- Assistive devices
- Caretaker costs
- Lost income
You have the right to seek compensation for these costs if you can prove that your child’s injuries were caused by doctor’s errors, inattention, distraction, or incompetence. An El Paso Erb’s palsy lawyer can help you determine which costs you may have the right to seek compensation for and what kinds of evidence would be needed to do so.
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Risk Factors for Erb’s Palsy
To understand whether or not Erb’s palsy can be prevented requires an understanding of the risk factors that can increase the likelihood of it occurring. Common risk factors associated with Erb’s palsy include:
- Gestational diabetes, which can lead to large babies
- Prolonged stage-two labor
- Breech births
- Assistive delivery device births, including vacuum and forceps deliveries
- Medical errors
A breech birth, which is when a baby is born bottom-first or feet-first, may require the delivery team to use force to extract the baby from the mother. As such, a breech presentation may not seem to be a preventable risk factor. The same can be said of maternal obesity or gestational diabetes.
However, it can be argued that the medical team should have tested for gestational diabetes or prepared for a breech birth by calling for a surgical birth, thus reducing the risk of complications.
What happens if a baby sustains injuries and develops Erb’s palsy under these circumstances? The answer to this question lies in the duty of care.
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Negligence and the Duty of Care
Doctors, nurses, and other medical caregivers are held to a high standard called the duty of care. What this means is they are expected to be able to treat their patients with the skills, knowledge, and competence that any other doctor would if faced with the same circumstances. Failing to perform a test, misreading the results of a test, or making other mistakes that the average doctor would have known to avoid is when your child’s doctor can be held liable for medical negligence.
To prove this in court, you must be able to do the following:
- Prove that the at-fault party owed you a duty of care.
- Prove that the duty of care was not met or was breached.
- Prove that the breach in the duty of care resulted in injuries of some sort.
- Prove that those injuries resulted in some form of loss to you or your child.
This is usually done with the help of a medical care provider who serves as an expert witness.
The Benefits of Professional Legal Counsel
A lawyer can help in many ways while you try to overcome the challenges you face from your child’s Erb’s palsy. We do not take any upfront fees and provide our services on a no-win, no-fee basis. This means we only collect if you win your case. You have nothing to lose by retaining our services, and we may be able to help you collect evidence, interview key witnesses, and negotiate with the at-fault party or parties as well as their insurance agents.
A lawyer can also connect you to the medical and economic modeling experts needed to put a dollar figure on the damages you’ve suffered. This includes not just tangible losses such as care costs and lost income but intangible costs as well, such as pain, suffering, and a lower quality of life.
Small infants and newborns are at a heightened risk for birth injuries due to their size, vulnerability, and the cues or pathways they must undergo as they transition from the womb to the world. If your child suffered a birth injury or was diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, our El Paso Erb’s palsy lawyer team may be able to help. Call us at (800) 222-9529 to discuss your case with the Birth Injury Lawyers Group.