Erb’s Palsy, is an injury to the shoulder, usually sustained by newborn babies during a difficult labor and delivery. The true effects of the injury may not be felt until after the baby becomes a toddler and has trouble moving and manipulating his arms, hands and shoulders. At this point families are advised to consult with an Erb’s Palsy lawyer to see if someone is at fault for the child’s condition. Below are three important questions to discuss with legal counsel.
1. What could have caused Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s Palsy is often caused by trauma during birth. The condition is also known as Brachial Palsy, since it involves the baby’s shoulders. During labor and delivery the baby’s weight may be too large to easily fit through the mother’s vaginal canal, and though the head appears with no difficulty, the rest of the body gets trapped under the mother’s pelvic bone. At this point some obstetricians start tugging the baby’s head, stretching the nerves of the neck. The continuous extraneous pulling may cause bruising and tear around the shoulder area, and lead to Erb’s Palsy.
2. Could Erb’s Palsy be prevented?
The mother’s obstetrician normally monitors her during the 9 months of the pregnancy and performs regular sonograms to measure the weight of the fetus. The size of the fetus is important because the doctor has to take into account the possibility of a c-section, if the baby is too large. Mother’s history of giving birth to other large babies, having diabetes during pregnancy or excessive weight gain are other factors to consider when deciding how the labor and delivery should proceed. Not every large baby needs to be delivered via c-sections and doctors are trained to manipulate the body to safely release the stuck shoulder. There are instances however, when a medical resident is in charge of the delivery, and becomes faced with an emergency c-section, which he is not authorized to perform without a physician present. Paging a doctor in the middle of the night may not yield results and the resident decides to pull on the baby’s head to get the rest of the body out, causing shoulder dystocia. This example goes to show that Erb’s palsy is a preventable condition, which may occur when a health care provider, against his better judgment, panics and causes injury to the infant. Professional lawyers are trained to review the hospital records, especially records of labor and delivery process, to ascertain what mistakes were made which led to baby suffering from Erb’s Palsy.
3. What damages can be recovered against the doctor?
If Erb’s Palsy was caused by physician’s negligence the parents, on behalf of the infant, can sue him for medical malpractice. The damages that can be recovered include but are not limited to infant’s pain and suffering, infant’s loss of enjoyment of life, infant’s loss of future earning capacity and parent’s loss of services of their child. Of course, the medical and hospital bills accrued as the result of continuous treatment that the infant may need due to Erb’s Palsy, past and future, can be recovered as well.
An Erb’s Palsy lawyer, working closely with medical experts and economists, may estimate the amount of monetary damages sustained and proceed against the negligent doctor to recover for the family’s losses caused by his medical malpractice