i-personalinjury

Portland Erb’s Palsy Attorney

Many things can go wrong that can cause harm to a baby before it is born. While complications can arise at any time during pregnancy or labor, there are especially risks of physical injury during the delivery process. Any medical professional overseeing a delivery should have the necessary training to keep both the mother and baby safe and should be able to make the proper decisions throughout the delivery as needed.

One common decision is how to best assist a baby who is having trouble coming through the birth canal. Specifically, the shoulders of a baby may become stuck on the mother’s pelvic bone and may not deliver right after the head, which is called shoulder dystocia. In such cases, a doctor may make the decision to assist the delivery by pulling, twisting, using forceps or vacuums, or even by intentionally breaking a pelvic bone in the mother or collarbone in the child. When done properly, assisted deliveries can go smoothly without any lasting effects. However, doctors can act improperly and can cause costly and painful injuries to babies, including a condition called Erb’s palsy.

If your child was diagnosed with Erb’s palsy and required additional medical treatment, you should discuss your situation with an experienced birth injury attorney. In many cases, the doctor who caused the Erb’s palsy can be held liable for their actions that led to the injury.

Information About Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy occurs when nerves in the shoulder – called the brachial plexus nerves – become damaged, which often occurs during delivery. The nerve can be stretched, displaced, compressed, torn, or completely severed, causing different degrees of injury to the baby. When the injury affects the upper and lower arm, the baby can be diagnosed with Erb’s palsy. Symptoms of Erb’s palsy include the following:

  • Lack of movement ability in the shoulder and arm;
  • Unnatural positioning of the arm;
  • Intense pain;
  • Weak or nonexistent reflexes in the arm;
  • Lack of sensation in the arm;
  • Lack of grip strength.

No matter what degree of injury your child has suffered or what specific symptoms are evident, Erb’s palsy is a condition that requires immediate attention and treatment to prevent long-term effects whenever possible. If not properly treated, Erb’s palsy can result in:

  • Atrophy of your child’s arm muscles;
  • Permanent numbness or weakness in the arm;
  • Partial or complete arm paralysis.

If you discover that your child had untreated Erb’s palsy, they may live with permanent disabilities for the rest of their lives.

While it is critical that your child is properly treated, treatment can be costly. The course of treatment for your child will depend on their specific injuries and may include:

  • Hydrotherapy;
  • Physical therapy;
  • Occupational therapy;
  • Surgery.

Treatment for your child’s Erb’s palsy can result in significant medical bills on top of the costs of having a child.

Can You Hold Your Doctor Liable?

After any type of birth injury, you will likely wonder whether you can hold your doctor responsible for the unnecessary injury to your child. The answer depends on the nature of the error that caused the injury. Doctors are expected to act in accordance with a particular standard of care and if their error during delivery did not meet this standard of care, they may be found to be negligent. Negligence gives you the right to file a claim for medical malpractice to seek compensation for your losses, including medical bills, pain and suffering of your child, permanent disability to your child.

Doctors can be negligent in a number of ways that can lead to Erb’s palsy. Some examples of negligence include:

  • Pulling or twisting the baby too forcefully;
  • Misuse or delivery tools, including forceps and vacuums;
  • Failure to order a c-section when needed to prevent injury to the child.

Determining whether your doctor was negligent can require investigation and analysis of their actions by medical experts who know how to identify malpractice during birth. You should have an attorney on your side who has the resources to prove negligence and who understands the specific legal issues that arise in an Erb’s palsy case.

Contact a Portland Erb’s Palsy Attorney

If your baby was diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, you should consult with an experienced birth injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine your legal rights. In addition, if your child should have been treated for Erb’s palsy but was not properly diagnosed or treated, you should also inquire about your rights and options. At the Johnston Law Firm, we have represented the rights of many children and families affected by a variety of birth injuries, so please call us today for help.