What Is Erb’s Palsy and How Can It Affect Your Newborn?
Giving birth is both a wonderful and frightening event. On the one hand, you’re about to bring your child into the world; on the other, you’re in extreme pain and there are hundreds of things that can go wrong. One of those potential complications is Erb’s Palsy.
What Is It?
Erb’s Palsy, so named for the doctor that discovered it, refers to a complication that results from damage to the brachial plexus nerves. These nerves are located in the neck and control the movement and sensation of arms, shoulders, hands, and fingers. When the nerve is damaged, it usually results in a weakness of the arms, and those suffering from it may not be able to move or feel sensation from their arms at all.
While the brachial plexus nerves can be damaged at any time in a person’s life, Erb’s Palsy usually impacts newborns. Older children or adults are unlikely to develop this complication.
Erb’s Palsy and Medical Malpractice
Erb’s Palsy affects roughly 1 out of 1,000 newborns. It’s usually caused during birth when a baby’s neck is stretched too far to the side. This stretching can happen for a number of reasons. Most are medical errors. Some examples include:
- The baby’s head gets stuck during birth. When a doctor or nurse tries to free the head, they pull and twist too much, leading to injury.
- The doctor uses a vacuum to aid the birth, but uses it too forcefully.
- The doctor neglected or failed to order a cesarean section when it became clear that vaginal birth was not a safe option for the baby.
- The doctor uses forceps to try and help the birth move along, but applies too much force.
- The baby was breeched, and the doctor or nurse neglected to properly position the baby’s arms while pulling it out, so its arms came out in an upward position.
Doctors and nurses have a responsibility to properly care for their patients and make sure no harm comes to them. This holds doubly true for newborns and mothers in the process of giving birth, as both rely on medical professionals almost completely.
A Lifelong Impact
While minor injuries to the brachial plexus nerves, such as stretching or small tears, can, and often will, heal on their own, more serious injuries may impact your child for a lifetime. Ruptures and avulsions, referring to when the nerve is ripped from the spinal cord, can never be fully fixed, even with surgery.
If your newborn is suffering from Erb’s Palsy due to a doctor or nurse’s negligence, you deserve justice. Medical professionals should know to treat newborns gently and watch for signs that a birth will be too difficult to occur naturally. In the pain and panic of holding your injured child, filing a claim may be the last thing on your mind. But negligent professionals need to be held accountable for the suffering they cause.
The attorneys at Leventhal Puga Braley P.C. have years of experience working with victims of medical malpractice. We fight for our clients and their right to compensation. Contact us at (303) 759-9945 to find out how we can help you.