What is Erb’s palsy? Is this cause for malpractice?

Erb’s palsy occurs when an injury to the nerves in the upper arms causes paralysis. This condition typically results from an injury during childbirth; this happens especially if excessive force is applied.

Experts at the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimate that one or two of every 1,000 newborns experience Erb’s palsy. While some infants recover in the first few months, some are left with lifelong damage. For children with lifelong damage, many parents’ best option is to file a lawsuit. Negligence typically plays a huge role in the condition.

In many cases Erb’s palsy occurs during difficult deliveries in which the baby is pushed and pulled abnormally. This is usually always damaging if undertaken with excessive force. Erb’s palsy can occur if the infant’s head emerges from the cervix, but the body is stuck, medical professionals may use forceps or other equipment to move this process along which can cause lasting damage. Physicians should be prepared for a c-section or a breech (feet-first) delivery.

Could this have been prevented? Negligence usually plays a role in Erb’s palsy making the condition completely preventable. While certain risks can increase the potential for this condition, medical staff should be able to identify these risks ahead of time and act accordingly. During delivery, Erb’s palsy is prevented by using the proper birthing techniques.

Why file a lawsuit? This condition prompts suffering for the child, the parents and family members. Newborns face considerable pain due to nerve damage. The pain may diminish but limited range of motion can prove to be a life-long ordeal. For instance, a child may have a long-term struggle to lift their hands over their head,  may face physical issues in school, not be able to swim or play sports, etc. This leads to emotional suffering as well as the physical suffering. Children with Erb’s palsy may spend a lot of time in physical therapy, several doctor appointments and may have to endure surgery. These costs add up financially for the parents causing them to struggle to handle  these medical bills. There are many reasons parents decide to move forward with a lawsuit and here are a few examples: to hold the medical professional and the facility accountable, to spread the word about Erb’s palsy and hopefully prevent future cases, to secure much needed compensation for medical bills, etc. Let Thomas & Wan, LLP answer your questions regarding your next steps today. Don’t be stuck handling this on your own. Let us review the medical records and see if our experts see grounds for filing a lawsuit. Please call us today.


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