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Health & Wellbeing

How Does Erb’s Palsy Happen?

What causes it?

Erb’s palsy happens when a newborn’s brachial plexus nerves are damaged during the birth process. This can happen due to shoulder dystocia or difficulty passing through the birth canal. It can also happen as a result of medical negligence, such as when a healthcare provider uses too much force on an infant. 

When Erb’s palsy is caused by a doctor or other healthcare provider’s mistake, they may be held liable in court. Earlier this year, a settlement of £1.21 million was awarded to a six-year-old girl in Scotland who was left with permanent disabilities after medical malpractice led to her brachial plexus birth injury.  

An Erb’s palsy compensation claim is often the best choice when the condition was caused by a preventable birth injury. Any settlement or award can be used to get a child necessary medical treatment and care. You can click here to learn more about Erb’s palsy litigation. 


Medical Mistakes That Can Cause Brachial Plexus Injuries 

One to two of every baby born in the United States is diagnosed with Erb’s palsy. The following are some of the most common forms of medical malpractice that can cause the condition. 


Mismanaged Labor 

Mismanaged labor is the top legal claim against OB/GYNs. Prolonged or arrested labor can be extremely damaging to the fetus, and it can be a cause of Erb’s palsy. If shoulder dystocia is not diagnosed during the second stage of labor, the baby can be harmed when the application of force is used to free the infant from the birth canal. 


Forceps and Vacuum Extraction 

Forceps and vacuum extraction can also cause a brachial plexus injury. These devices are used to help move the baby through the birth canal. Injuries to the baby’s brachial plexus nerves can happen when their head and shoulder are overextended during delivery using these tools.  

Undiagnosed Cephalo Cranial Disproportion 

When an infant is too large to safely fit through the mother’s birth canal, it is the doctor’s responsibility to diagnose it and react appropriately. This is also the case when the mother’s pelvis is abnormally small or misshapen. When medical personnel fail to diagnose this condition, the infant can be stuck in the birth canal, leading to the use of excessive force to free it.  


Undiagnosed Abnormal Position of the Fetus  

Newborns can also develop Erb’s palsy when a physician fails to diagnose an abnormal presentation. This can include breech birth, in which the baby is born feet first, or cephalic presentation, which will result in the baby being delivered face-first. These conditions can also lead to excessive pulling on the shoulders, which can cause damage to the fetus when the brachial nerves are stressed.  


The Benefits of Filing a Birth Injury Lawsuit 

While some cases of Erb’s palsy are mild and will resolve on their own, others will require treatment. In serious cases, the child can be left with lifelong disabilities that can require costly treatments and other expenses related to the permanent loss of the use of the affected arm.  

When a brachial plexus injury is caused by a medical practitioner’s mistake, there are two key reasons parents should consider contacting a personal injury lawyer who specializes in Erb’s palsy. The first is that the injury did not need to happen, so the provider is responsible for covering the expenses. The second is that filing a lawsuit will hold them responsible for their actions, protecting other families in the future.  

Some of the damages families can recover in these cases include medical bills, the cost of future treatment, and reimbursement for any special equipment that is needed. Families may also be able to recover damages for their pain and suffering.  

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