Damage to the Brachial Plexus is a Devastating Birth Injury
One of the most common birth injuries that is caused by medical malpractice is damage to the brachial plexus. This can be a result of doctors incorrectly implementing procedures intended to deal with shoulder dystocia, a condition in which the anterior shoulder of an infant cannot pass below the mother’s pubic symphysis during birth.
Although doctors are trained meticulously to deal with this complication by the use of a fairly straightforward technique called the McRoberts Maneuver, in which the mother’s legs are flexed tightly to her abdomen, there are still far too many instances in which doctors fail to take the appropriate steps, causing unnecessary injury to the infant.
According to John Hopkins, Obstetric brachial plexus palsy occurs in just under one percent of live births. The condition is most common when there is difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder. During birth, the baby’s shoulder may become impacted on the mother’s pubic bone causing the child’s brachial plexus nerves to stretch or tear (shoulder dystocia). The seriousness of the injury depends on the case.
Types of Damage to the Brachial Plexus.
Erb’s Palsy refers to an injury of the upper brachial plexus nerves which leads to a loss of motion around the shoulder and ability to flex the elbow.
Klumpke’s Palsy refers to an injury of the lower brachial plexus which results in a loss of motion in the wrist and hand.
The following factors increase the risk of brachial plexus injury during
- Breech delivery
- A larger than average newborn, for example a child of a diabetic mother.
- Difficulty delivering the baby’s shoulder after the head has already come out (commonly called shoulder dystocia)
Brachial plexus injury is less common in hospitals now that delivery techniques have improved, but we still see cases from time to time. Cesarean delivery is used more often when there are concerns about a difficult delivery. Although a C-section reduces the risk of injury it does not prevent it altogether, and the procedure carries other risks.
The consequences of Erb’s palsy include delayed development and paralysis in a baby’s arms or fingers. These symptoms may be temporary, but sadly may often be permanent.
We trust doctors and other healthcare professional, particularly during stressful times such as childbirth. If warning signs have been detected prior to labor, a doctor should immediately respond to fetal distress by considering an emergency C-section or another alternate delivery method. On too many occasions doctors fail to act until it is too late.
If you have been hurt due to negligence at a hospital you may have grounds to take out a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital. Call our Virginia medical malpractice lawyers at 757.455.0077 or see Cooperhurley.com.