What is Erb’s Palsy and How Is It Caused?

Erb’s Palsy

Newborns are incredibly vulnerable individuals. Many newborn babies don’t weigh much more than a two-liter bottle of soda.

Excessive force on a baby’s arm or head usually causes Erb’s palsy, which affects the brachial plexus nerve bundle under the arms.

Usually, this excessive force occurs during difficult deliveries, as outlined below. Like many other palsies (condition characterized by paralysis, loss of movement, shaking, and loss of feeling), an Erb’s palsy nerve injury ranges from barely noticeable to serious or catastrophic.

Since babies are so fragile, these injuries tend to be catastrophic.

Under state law, doctors must do everything they can to protect the health and safety of their patients. Dangerous PLDR (prenatal, labor, delivery and recovery) shortcuts breach this duty of care.

As a result, a New York personal injury attorney can obtain the compensation these families need to deal with lifelong illnesses like Erb’s palsy and give their children the best possible chance to succeed in life.

Moreover, substantial punitive damages are usually available in medical negligence cases.

These damages deter future misconduct and force doctors to use more care during the PLDR process.

In other words, punitive damages force doctors to change the way they approach patient care, so other families won’t have to endure the nightmare of a serious birth injury.

Underlying Medical Conditions

If children sustain permanent nerve injuries during birth, doctors often try to convince families that “unavoidable complications” caused the injury. But it is very possible that medical negligence usually causes these injuries.

This negligence usually occurred earlier during the PLDR process.

Identifying and responding to red flags is a big part of prenatal visits. Doctors should be on the lookout for potential problems, such as shoulder dystocia. An SD baby is too large to drift down the mother’s narrow birth canal.

As a result, the doctor must use excessive force during delivery to avoid a brain injury. The warning signs of SD include:

  • LGA (Large for Gestational Age) fetus,
  • Maternal diabetes,
  • Mother’s history of delivering large babies,
  • Maternal obesity, and
  • Nutrition issues during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, many doctors either don’t identify these warning signs or don’t respond appropriately to them.

Failure to properly administer sonograms is a good example. These diagnostic tests are the best way, and usually the only accurate way, to monitor LGA fetuses.

But many doctors don’t order multiple sonograms. Or they over-rely on physician assistants or other professionals to interpret the results of these tests.

Labor Emergencies

If a baby becomes lodged in a mother’s birth canal, the umbilical cord keeps dropping. The cord can wrap around the baby’s neck and cause permanent brain damage in less than five minutes.

Under extreme pressure, physicians, like many of us, often make poor decisions. These poor decisions could include grasping a baby’s exposed head or arm and trying to pull the newborn out of the mother. That’s more than enough force to cause Erb’s palsy.

Mechanical birth aids, like a vacuum extractor, are even worse.

Basically, the doctor straps a metal cap onto the baby’s head. The cap is attached to a surgical vacuum, and the doctor tries to suck the baby out of the mother. The excessive force on the head could stretch the neck and damage the brachial plexus nerves.

Living with Erb’s Palsy

These nerve injuries are irreversible. However, a combination of extensive physical therapy and lifestyle adjustments could help these children.

These interventions are expensive. Lifelong care for an Erb’s palsy infant could easily run into the millions of dollars.

A New York personal injury attorney not only obtains compensation for current losses. Attorneys also obtain compensation for reasonable future medical bills, so these families have the resources they need to provide ongoing care.

Birth injuries cause almost unimaginable suffering. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC.