Probably the most common mistake made by parents of children who have suffered birth injuries is to assume that the doctor did everything that could be done to prevent the injury from happening. While it is true that many birth injuries are simply unavoidable, a large percentage of them can be directly attributed to the negligent actions – or failure to act – on the part of a doctor or nurse. This is true in many cases of Erb's palsy, a serious birth injury which can greatly suppress the child's quality of life.
The cause of Erb's palsy is simple to understand. In some births, the baby's shoulder becomes lodged against the mother's pubic bone, a type of birth complication known as shoulder dystocia (from the Greek dys- "bad" and tokos "birth"). Shoulder dystocia is a medical emergency, and in order to protect both the mother and the baby the obstetrician must take swift action. If, however, he or she pulls too hard on the baby's head, the child is likely to suffer a brachial plexus injury.
The brachial plexus, which is a group of nerve fibers which run from the neck, through the shoulder and into the arm, may be stretched or torn, or the nerves may even be pulled out at their roots (an avulsion injury). Depending on the severity of the injury, the child may experience temporary weakness and loss of sensation in the affected limb, or may face a future of living with an arm that is entirely immobilized and numb and which will present a withered appearance.
Erb's palsy is quite often avoidable. Most immediately, the doctor may be liable for causing the injury by using excessive force in the maneuver to resolve the shoulder dystocia. The failure to prevent the injury may even have occurred prior to labor: By diagnosing gestational diabetes or other conditions which are likely to cause complications in a vaginal delivery, the doctor may prevent such an injury by ordering a Caesarian section delivery.
If your child has been diagnosed with Erb's palsy and you believe that the doctor may be to blame for the injury, contact us at Cranston & Edwards, PLLC for a team of Morgantown personal injury lawyers with more than 50 years of combined experience. We understand how distressing it can be to learn that your child has been injured at birth and may be facing a life of physical impairment, and we want to help you pursue justice and to hold the doctor accountable for negligence. With success, it may be possible to recover financial compensation for your child's current and future medical expenses, loss of future earning capacity and even damages for pain and suffering. Take the first step now by filling out our free case evaluation form.