How do I prove malpractice if my child has Erb’s Palsy?

malpractice if my child has Erb's Palsy

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, one to two newborns out of 1000 experience Erb’s palsy. It is never something an expectant parent thinks will happen. 

Any birth injury is traumatic for both the parent and newborn. In the case of Erb’s palsy, the initial damage done may fade over time, but there is everlasting damage that costs parents in numerous ways. Sometimes the only way for parents to get through the financial strain is to file an Erb’s palsy lawsuit.

What is Erb’s palsy?

Erb’s palsy goes by different names – Erb-Duchenne palsy and brachial plexus birth palsy. But, regardless of what a doctor calls it, it is often due to negligence. 

Erb’s palsy is when an injury to the nerves in the upper arm leads to paralysis. Excessive force during childbirth is one of the ways it happens.

The symptoms vary and are sometimes numerous. 

If a parent cannot move a newborn’s arms and shoulders, it could be because of Erb’s palsy. Babies have naturally limited mobility, but with this birth injury, it is impossible for a newborn to even stretch their arms.

Erb’s palsy also affects reflexes. Some newborns have minimal arm reflexes and some have none at all.

One of the signs that a baby has suffered Erb’s palsy is the way they position their arms. Medical staff and parents will notice that a newborn will unnaturally bend their arm towards the body. It is because of intense pain in their arms, shoulders, or neck. Crying when moving and touched are telltale signs of Erb’s palsy. 

In some cases of Erb’s palsy, the baby loses all sensation in their affected arms and shoulders.

The Causes of Erb’s Palsy

While there are other causes, medical negligence is the leading cause of Erb’s palsy. It happens when a newborn is pulled or pushed abnormally or with excessive force. One of the reasons that force is used during childbirth is because their head emerges from the cervix, but their body remains stuck. Doctors will use forceps when this happens and can cause Erb’s palsy.

One of the ways it becomes the medical professional’s fault is when a doctor fails to proceed with a Cesarean section in a timely matter. 

Newborns are sometimes too big to pass through their mother’s birth canal. Physicians typically can diagnose the condition.  The failure to diagnose and make a birth plan to avoid violent childbirth increases the risk of brachial plexus and other traumatic birth injuries.

It is a normal procedure to prepare for breech births, too, when there is a possibility of the baby coming feet-first. If a doctor does not discover a possible breech birth in time, they have no choice but to pull the newborn by their feet and legs. It puts stress on their little bodies.

On occasion, lateral traction during a Caesarean section will lead to Erb’s palsy.

Can Erb’s palsy be preventable?

Erb’s palsy is avoidable for the most part. It is why negligence plays a major factor in a birth injury. Medical staff has the technology and ability to diagnose any risk in advance to childbirth and then create a plan that prevents injury in a newborn. 

The best way to avoid Erb’s palsy is by doctors using proper birthing techniques and following procedure during a childbirth crisis. Doctors should avoid pushing and pulling at an infant, even during a breeched birth. 

Preventable Erb’s Palsy and Your Rights

No parent thinks that their newborn will face the trauma when they are born. It is life-changing for them and their infant. 

Nerve damage is painful for newborns and can last a lifetime. While it might diminish over time, they may always struggle with arm motions. School, sports, and socializing might always affect the child. An Erb’s palsy lawsuit is the only way to pay the massive medical expenses and to address emotional suffering for both parents and the baby.

The reasons for filing a lawsuit vary.

First, it is to hold the medical professional responsible for the birth injury that leads to Erb’s palsy. It helps to prevent it from happening to another family. A claim is how an affected parent can spread the word.

The main reasoning behind filing an Erb’s palsy lawsuit is to secure compensation for existing medical bills. It is also for future rehabilitation and other costs. It helps parents ensure that they can provide long-term care for their child.

Another reason to seek compensation is to get justice for your personal peace of mind. A birth injury brings with it anger and confusion.  Sometimes a family needs the closure that a claim can provide in order to move forward.

Many parents may avoid filing a claim because of the fear of what will happen in court. But, in many cases, doctors and hospitals settle out of court.

It is never an easy decision to sue a physician or hospital. It certainly is not the plan when a mother goes into labor and faces a difficult childbirth. But, it is the only way for parents to provide the healthcare their child will need right now, and possibly in the future. Contact an attorney that you know will be a member of your team and support you and your new family with compassion and expert advice.


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