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Was Your Child’s Erb’s Palsy Caused By Medical Malpractice?


Erb's Palsy injury lawyersOur Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys Explain Some Important Things You Need To Know About Erb’s Palsy, If Your Child’s Shoulder, Arm or Neck Were Injured During Childbirth

Erb’s Palsy is a preventable birth injury that can cause lifelong disability with a child’s shoulder, arm or neck.  If your child was diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy, let our experienced medical malpractice lawyers explain some important things you should know.

 What is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s Palsy causes a loss of sensation, paralysis and atrophy of certain muscles in the arm.  It is caused by an injury to the Erb’s point, the location where cranial nerves merge in the neck to meet spinal nerves.  This injury can be caused when a delivery is complicated by shoulder dystocia, a condition when the baby’s shoulders become stuck during childbirth.  If the baby’s shoulders are excessively and forcefully pulled, this can cause the nerves of the brachial plexus to violently stretch and become injured.  This type of stretching can also occur in a breech delivery, by the forces on the baby’s raised arms during delivery.

What Are the Common Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy?

There are several common signs and symptoms of this condition, including:

  • The arm is limp and held against the side of the body, bent at the elbow;
  • The baby cannot grip with the affected hand;
  • Partial or full paralysis;
  • Loss of sensory or motor function in the upper arm;
  • Arm numbness; and
  • Impaired circulatory, muscular, and nerve development.

 Can Erb’s Palsy Be Caused by Medical Malpractice?

Erb’s Palsy can be caused by medical malpractice.  This condition occurs when a baby’s shoulder becomes stuck during delivery.  This may make it difficult for the baby to emerge from the birth canal.  Sometimes, a doctor will not realize that the baby is stuck and will continue to try pulling the baby out of the birth canal.  Other times, a doctor will realize that the baby is stuck, but may continue to pull the baby, hoping that one last tug will work.  However, if the baby is truly stuck no amount of pulling alone will cause the baby to be delivered. When this pulling is done too forcefully, there can be overstretching of the nerves in the baby’s arms and Erb’s Palsy can result.

When a baby’s shoulder does become stuck, accepted standards of medical care require that the doctor realize that this has happened. Once the doctor realizes that the baby is stuck, accepted standards of medical care require that reasonable measures be taken to help the baby out of the birth canal as quickly and safely as possible.  If a doctor fails to satisfy these obligations, you may have a basis for a medical malpractice claim.

When the child’s birth is stopped because the shoulders have become stuck, there are several maneuvers that a doctor can use to help with the delivery, including:

  • McRobert’s maneuver, attempting to dislodge the baby’s shoulder by pulling or pushing the mother’s leg while applying pressure above the pubic bone;
  • Woods Screw maneuver, manipulation of the baby’s shoulders to turn the baby;
  • Zavanelli maneuver, pushing there baby back into the birth canal, and performing a cesarean section.

What is the Treatment for Erb’s Palsy?

Treatment depends on the severity of the condition. If the nerve damage is mild, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to improve range of motion, flexibility, strength, and nerve function. If the nerve damage is significant, however surgery may be necessary. Usually, this surgery is done within the first six months after birth. The surgery is intended to restore at least partial arm function, and additional surgery may be necessary as the child ages.

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If you believe your child’s Erb’s Palsy was caused by medical malpractice, contact our experienced medical malpractice attorneys for a free consultation by email or calling (800) 762-9300 for a free consultation.  You can also simply fill out a case intake form, and one of our attorneys will get right back to you.

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