Medical services and patient outcomes have improved dramatically over the last few decades, but one constant in the healthcare services space has been the incidence of medical errors. Regardless of how much training or experience a medical team has, the unexpected can always happen, and unplanned circumstances can lead to an injury that may cause lasting issues for the patient and his or her family.
At the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, we work closely with doctors, therapists, insurance teams, and hospital administrations to provide the families of children suffering from a birth injury with the care, treatment, and support they need. Families with children diagnosed with Erb’s palsy can consult our San Antonio Erb’s palsy lawyer for guidance and insight into handling the care, treatment, and costs associated with their child’s birth injury. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529 to learn more.
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The Causes and Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy is a nerve condition that is caused by damage to the upper brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a large bundle of nerves located near the neck and shoulders. It is comprised of the upper and lower brachial plexus. These nerves run from the neck and shoulders to various terminal points in the chest, shoulders, arms, and hands. Damage to any part of the brachial plexus can lead to weakness or paralysis in the parts of the body connected to those nerves.
When the upper brachial plexus is damaged because of a birth injury, a baby may suffer a lack of sensation, weakness, and maybe even paralysis in part of or all of his or her arm, depending on the severity of the nerve damage. An avulsion, in which a nerve becomes detached from the spine, can lead to permanent paralysis of the affected arm unless the nerve is reattached, replaced, or repaired in surgery. Neuropraxia injuries involving stretching of the nerves are a mild form of nerve damage and may recover with regular physical therapy.
In most cases, the baby will exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:
- No feeling in the affected arm.
- An arm bent at the elbow toward the body.
- An inability to move or fully control the arm.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there are many ways that Erb’s palsy can develop. Here are a few examples.
- During a breech birth, if a baby is born bottom-first or feet-first, the delivery team may need to forcefully remove the baby from the mother by twisting or pulling on the baby, causing damage to the nerves in the neck.
- A large fetus can become stuck behind the mother’s pelvis. This is a condition called shoulder dystocia and may require the use of force to deliver the baby before from the mother before it suffers other serious issues such as hypoxia or umbilical strangulation.
- Petite mothers may be unable to deliver large babies naturally. Doctors must call for a surgical delivery when necessary to protect the mother and baby from harm.
- Even during a normal vaginal delivery, if the delivery team pushes the head or neck of the baby from one side to the other using too much force, the delicate nerves in the neck may be twisted, pinched, or severed in the process.
All these events can cause Erb’s palsy. Many of these issues could have been monitored, tested, and planned for beforehand. For example, large fetuses and breech births can both be easily identified using simple tests that can help the delivery team prepare for potential birth issues.
If these and similar tests for known risk factors were not performed, or were performed but were incorrectly interpreted by the medical team, this can be classified as negligent behavior. The same applies to the incorrect use of assistive devices in the delivery room, a lack of experience on the part of the delivery team, a lack of supplies required to perform a quick and safe delivery, or prenatal or postnatal treatment that falls short of basic medical standards.
Erb’s palsy can usually be identified as soon as a baby is born, but ascertaining how, when, and why it occurred will require an investigation. Speak with our San Antonio Erb’s palsy lawyer for guidance concerning what you can do to get this process started, and to take action based on the circumstances and events surrounding your child’s birth and his or her birth injuries.
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Treatment and Care of Erb’s Palsy
The vast majority of brachial plexus injuries heal on their own naturally over time. According to a study in Paediatrics & Child Health, estimates place the recovery rate from Erb’s palsy between 80 and 96 percent. Such cases may still require regular therapy sessions—either at home or at a therapist’s office—to help the child develop strength, flexibility, and range-of-motion. Serious cases may initially be addressed using therapy and non-invasive treatments.
After six months or so of treatment, if a patient shows no signs of recovery or progress, surgery may be required. Along the way, the family will have to deal with the costs of doctor’s visits, medications, therapy costs, lost income from missing work, and more. Additional costs that cannot be avoided include the costs of scans, X-rays, and specialist consultations if needed.
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These costs can quickly add up, and even if you have insurance coverage for some of these outlays, you may want to seek compensation from the at-fault parties if possible. You may be able to hold the doctor or hospital responsible for your child’s injuries so that your burden of care and expenses is lessened.
Speak with a San Antonio Erb’s palsy lawyer for information regarding what to do, which damages you may have the right to seek, and your options for holding the negligent doctor or hospital liable.
Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529.