Giving birth should a memorable experience. However, that experience can be ruined by medical negligence—negligence that can negatively affect your child for the rest of his life. Birth-related medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other medical staff fails to use reasonable care and causes harm to the newborn. One of the possible outcomes of birth-related medical malpractice is a condition known as Erb’s Palsy.
What Is Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s Palsy, or brachial palsy, is a result of damage to the nerves surrounding a baby’s shoulder (brachial plexus) during birth. There are several different types of brachial plexus in an infant that are classified according to the extent of arm paralysis:
- Brachial plexus injuries. This type of injury usually affects the upper arm only.
- Erb’s paralysis. This type of injury affects both the upper and lower arm.
- Klumpke paralysis. This type of injury affects the hand. It may also cause eyelid droop on the opposite side of the body.
Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy
Your doctor will notice the signs of Erb’s Palsy immediately or soon after birth. The symptoms may include:
- Paralysis. Your infant will be unable to move his upper or lower arm or hand.
- Absent reflex. Your newborn will have an absent Moro reflex on the side that is affected.
- Flexed arms. Your baby’s arm may be bent at the elbow and held inward against his body.
- Reduced grip. Your infant will have a decreased grip on the side that is affected.
How Erb’s Palsy Can Be Caused by Medical Error
In some cases, Erb’s Palsy may be cause by medical negligence. As a parent, you should consider the possibility that your doctor may not have done everything possible to prevent Erb’s Palsy. If you think this may be the case, you should begin by requesting an inquiry. In cases where Erb’s Palsy is due to medical negligence, they are usually related to one of the following issues:
- Inaccurate weight assessment. The baby’s weight was not correctly estimated before delivery.
- Incorrect delivery. A caesarian section was not performed.
- Inadequate diagnosis and treatment. You were not correctly diagnosed or treated for gestational diabetes.
- Insufficient information. Your doctor did not inform you of the risks of delivering a large baby vaginally.
- Inadequate delivery. Your doctor did not perform adequate delivery techniques to manage obstructed labor.
- Excessive force. Your doctor applied unnecessary force during the delivery.
The long-term goal for a child with Erb’s Palsy is that he will be able to regain partial or full use of the affected hand or arm. Treatment for infant brachial plexus injuries can include gentle exercise, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery. In cases where Erb’s Palsy is found to be due to medical negligence, damages that may be awarded include medical expenses for past and future treatment, compensation for pain and suffering, and loss of earnings for the life expectancy of the child.
If you believe that your baby’s Erb’s Palsy or damage to the brachial plexus was caused by a doctor’s error, you need to talk to an attorney who is experienced in the field of medical malpractice while you are still legally allowed to pursue compensation. Contact our legal team at Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum at 401-946-3200, or complete our contact page for a free consultation. We can help you and your child get the help you need.