Is medical malpractice to blame for my child’s Erb’s palsy?

Jason R. Schultz
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Jason R. Schultz is a Peachtree City Personal Injury Attorney Serving the Greater Atlanta Metro Area

Erb’s palsy, a type of brachial plexus palsy, is characterized by weakness, numbness, or paralysis in the wrist, fingers, hand, arm, and shoulder area. Other symptoms can include facial disfiguration, lack of control of arm movements, arm immobility, and your child’s inability to crawl or sit up on his own.

Erb’s palsy is a result of an injury to the nerves of the brachial plexus. Many brachial plexus—and therefore Erb’s palsy—birth injuries occur due to shoulder dystocia during birth. Shoulder dystocia refers to the baby’s shoulder becoming caught in the mother’s pelvis during birth, preventing the baby from exiting the birthing canal. Erb’s palsy is also more common when the baby is of larger-than-average size, and when the position of the baby during delivery is breech.

When any of the above conditions occur, the brachial plexus nerves may be affected. Specific causes of a brachial plexus injury, according to MedlinePlus, include the following.

  • The infant’s head and neck pulling towards the side as the infant’s head passes through the birth canal
  • Pulling or placing pressure on the baby’s shoulder during delivery
  • Placing pressure on a baby’s raised arms during a breech delivery

Erb’s palsy is not always caused by a doctor’s negligence. Your doctor may have done everything correctly during the birth process, but was unsuccessful preventing your baby’s birth injury.

However, if you believe that a doctor’s negligence is to blame for your child’s Erb’s palsy, consult with an Atlanta medical malpractice attorney to learn more about your rights to recovery.

How can a doctor’s negligence cause Erb’s palsy?

In some cases, a doctor’s negligence can contribute to the occurrence of Erb’s palsy. For example, a doctor may:

  • Not act in a timely manner to order a cesarean section if the baby is in a dangerous position.
  • Exert too much force or pressure on an infant’s arm or shoulder.
  • Use delivery tools, like forceps, to remove the baby, asserting too much force and causing injury.

Doctors should have also checked for possible risk factors such as macrosomia (larger than average birth weight), gestational diabetes, long labor, and pelvic abnormalities to ensure they did everything in their power to deliver a healthy baby.

What do I do if I think medical malpractice caused my child’s Erb’s palsy?

While a doctor’s negligence is not always the cause of a brachial plexus injury, it does happen. If you think that medical malpractice caused your child’s Erb’s palsy, you will have to prove it. This involves establishing that the doctor acted negligently. If you can prove this, then you can hold the doctor liable—or legally responsible for damages—for your child’s Erb’s palsy injury.

To learn more about how to prove negligence and the four elements of a medical malpractice case, read our recent post about what to do if you believe that you have a medical malpractice case.

How the Law Office of Jason Schultz, P.C. Can Help You and Your Baby

An Erb’s palsy injury can cause serious delays in motor skill development, and even lasting impairment, for an affected newborn. Medical costs, costs of therapy, and emotional anguish can all take a toll on you and your family after an Erb’s palsy birth injury occurs. There are resources available for you and your family after an Erb’s palsy injury occurs, as well as exercises that you can do at home with your child to help him recover.

At the Law Office of Jason Schultz, P.C., our medical malpractice and birth injury attorneys will advocate on your behalf, and work hard to seek the compensation that your family deserves. To schedule your free consultation, call our office today at 404-474-0804 or fill out our online contact form and we can get started on your case.