The birth of a child is an awe-inspiring event. So often Mother Nature and skilled doctors work together to provide a smooth entry for the baby into the world. However, it is well-known that many births have complications, and unfortunately sometimes those complications lead to injuries. Some are preventable, some are not.
One of the most common birth injuries is known as Erb’s Palsy. This condition is the result of Brachial Plexus injuries and Shoulder Dystocia during delivery. Simply put, shoulder dystocia is when the nerves in the shoulder get stretched, compressed, or torn when the doctor pulls too hard on the baby (usually because the baby’s shoulder has been stuck behind the mother’s Pubis Symphysis bone).
What is Shoulder Dystocia?
Shoulder dystocia is something that happens when the baby’s shoulder is stretched too far resulting in the nerves being stretched or torn. This is most frequently caused by a doctor pulling far too hard on the baby during delivery if the baby was stuck in the mom’s pubic bone during a vaginal birth.
It is possible to prevent shoulder dystocia if the doctor performing the birth sees the signs that would warn them. There are some instances in which it cannot be prevented. That does not mean, however, that there wouldn’t be measures taken to prevent further harm done to the baby once the injury occurs.
There are ways for a child to be delivered without pulling on their heads and causing injuries to them. An example of this would be a maneuver called McRoberts maneuver, which is designed to help prevent shoulder dystocia.
McRoberts maneuver involves the patient having her legs held up in the flex position while pressing on the low part of the abs of the mother and putting pressure on her to try to more safely deliver the baby.
The wrong way to do this maneuver is to put pressure on the upper abs of the mother which could cause serious injury to both the child and the mother.
If this maneuver does not work there are other ways that the doctor can try to rotate the baby inside of the mother’s uterus to try to get the shoulders free to safely deliver. If a doctor does not attempt these maneuvers, they are responsible for your baby’s injuries.
What are the risk factors for Brachial Plexus injuries?
- gestational diabetes
- obesity in the mother
- excessive weight gain during pregnancy
- macrosomia (a baby weighing more than 4000 grams or approximately 9 lbs.)
- a previous large baby
- a post-term pregnancy
- a small pelvis.
Does My Child’s Case Involve Negligence?
If your birth story involved the following, then you are likely a victim of negligence by the hands of your doctors:
- Fetal distress being ignored or going unrecognized
- Being pregnant for more than 41 weeks without receiving testing or 42 weeks in any circumstances
- Not receiving care if the condition in the mom has changed during pregnancy
- Letting the umbilical cord stay compressed or actually causing it to be compressed
- Using forceps or vacuum extractors improperly
- Giving Pitocin improperly
- Doing a c-section too late
- Poor resuscitation and newborn care after birth.
The best way to be sure if you have a case or not is to contact our shoulder dystocia lawyers.
When to Take Legal Action
As soon as you suspect that there was negligence involved in your child’s injury, you should reach out to lawyers right away to see what legal action they suggest that you take. The sooner the better. There is a statute of limitations that varies based on where you live. With medical malpractice such as birth injuries, there can be a gap between when the injury occurs and when you realize that the injury was caused by malpractice. As soon as you realize that there is a chance your child was hurt due to negligence, please call our shoulder dystocia lawyers to set up a free initial consultation.
The benefits of working with lawyers who have handled cases like this before means you are far more likely to get the results you deserve than if you tried to do this on your own. These cases are extremely nuanced and require knowledge of local and federal law. It would be a big task for you to try to deal with the injuries your child suffers from, provide for your family, do all the things you normally do in your day and then try to become knowledgeable about litigating medical malpractice cases enough so that you could successfully represent yourself. Make your life easier by letting us handle your case.
What Are Our Legal Rights?
The process of childbirth is extremely complicated and requires a high level of care on the part of doctors. Childbirth is extremely unpredictable, in fact, 80% of childbirths have some form of complication. All of these potential complications mean that doctors must make sudden split-second decisions to react to problems during childbirth. Unfortunately, too often a doctor or nurse may make the wrong decision under pressure and that error could cause Erb’s Palsy (Brachial Plexus).
Modern medical technology and techniques make Erb’s Palsy largely preventable. There are several things doctors can do to decrease the risk of an Erb’s Palsy childbirth:
Estimate the baby’s weight before delivery (higher-weight babies are more at risk and parents should be informed of this risk).
If there is a high risk of Erb’s Palsy, perform a caesarean section, which removes the risk of the shoulder getting caught.
If the doctor sees that the baby is not properly aligned, the doctor should use appropriate techniques to prevent the shoulder from getting caught. There are numerous techniques doctors know to prevent the shoulder from getting caught. For example, if the shoulder or the baby is gently shifted, the risk of the shoulder getting caught can be greatly reduced. Or, the doctor could press down on the mother’s belly to push the baby’s shoulder into the correct position.
This is not to say that all Erb’s Palsy cases are the result of negligence. Often there is little or nothing a doctor can do. Nevertheless, parents should consider the possibility that a doctor may not have done all that is possible to prevent Erb’s Palsy and at least request some form of inquiry.
Treatment Options for Erb’s Palsy or Brachial Plexus injuries
It is essential that treatment for a Brachial Plexus injury be obtained as soon as possible from experienced medical professionals who specialize in treating Brachial Plexus injuries. Early treatment for Brachial Plexus injuries most likely will include occupational and/or physical therapy to help maximize use of the affected arm while preventing contractures (tightening of the muscles and joints).
It is important to note that even with ongoing therapy treatment and surgical intervention, complete recovery from a Brachial Plexus injury may not occur.
What Can Be Expected with Treatment?
Most mild cases of Brachial Plexus injuries recover in 3 to 4 months. The more severe cases improve slowly over 18 to 21 months. By 2 years of age, any recovery that will occur should have occurred, and no further improvement is expected. Treatment consists of Physical Therapy and Surgery.
Therapy for Brachial Plexus Injuries
An occupational or physical therapist will work with your child. The therapist will also help you (the parent) learn to do the exercises. Most parents need to do the range of motion exercises at home with their children two to three times a day for several years.
We recommend daily exercises that help to keep the muscles and joints moving normally. They are called range of motion exercises.
- Provide tactile stimulation to provide sensory awareness
- Use exercise to develop strength.
- Most exercises inclus tasks to increase flexibility, strength and feeling.
If your child is not able to use muscles in the arm and hand, these muscles will stay weak. The arm may not grow normally, and your child may feel tightness in some muscles and joints. A joint that stays in the same position all the time can actually “freeze”. Exercises keep the muscles and joints flexible. When the nerves start working better, the muscles and joints will be ready to work.
Surgery for Brachial Plexus Injuries
Surgery may help children who do not recover by the age of 5 months. Nerve surgery is most effective when it is done between the ages of 5 and 12 months and becomes less effective after 1 year. Nevertheless, surgical correction for permanent disability or deformity can be performed in the school-aged child where necessary.
For some children, neurosurgery is not recommended or is not successful. In these instances, other procedures can be done to transfer muscles and tendons. This surgery is done by a plastic surgeon when the child is older.
Paying for medical care
The costs for treatment and surgery could overwhelm most families. Families must be able to dedicate long hours to doctor’s visits and treatment. Financial support may be available to families in the form of legal compensation.
Call Our Shoulder Dystocia Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation
If your child suffered a birth injury and you want to pursue the justice you are entitled to, please call our Shoulder Dystocia lawyers as soon as possible. We want to fight for your right to full and fair compensation. You deserve to have a lawyer by your side fighting for your rights. Call to set up your free, initial consultation today. We are eager to help you get the results you deserve.