Injury at Birth: Medical Negligence & Brachial Plexus Injuries

Unfortunately, newborn children can suffer injuries during and prior to the delivery process. These injuries can sometimes result in fractures, cephalohematoma, and even traumatic brain injury (TBI). A newborn can also sustain a brachial plexus injury, which results in a condition known as “Erb’s Palsy.” This condition is characterized by the partial or complete paralysis of an infant’s upper extremity {shoulder, arm, hand]. Sometimes, these injuries are caused by the negligence of the obstetrician, in what is commonly referred to as an act of “medical malpractice.”

How Does a Brachial Plexus Injury Occur?

The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that controls the movement of a person’s shoulder, arm, wrist, and hand. A brachial plexus injury can occur during the birthing process if the infant’s head and neck are pulled to the side at the same time its shoulders are passing through the birth canal. In this scenario, the infant’s shoulder may get stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone. If the physician panics or is unaware of the situation, they may try to dislodge the infant by implementing a negligent maneuver that stretches or tears the nerves in the infant’s brachial plexus. This can result in the partial or complete paralysis of the child’s upper limb, a condition that is often permanent.

The following nerve injuries can occur when a doctor stretches a newborn’s neck during the birthing process:

  • Neuropraxia
  • Traumatic Neuroma
  • Rupture
  • Avulsion

Determining Medical Negligence

The birthing process can be an incredibly stressful experience for both mother and child. If a physician isn’t careful, these two patients can sustain severe and even life-threatening injuries. For example, the infant needs to be properly monitored throughout each stage of the birthing process to make sure he or she is receiving adequate oxygen. A lack of oxygen can lead to serious neurological injuries, including brain damage and/or cerebral palsy.

Before a nerve or brain injury is likely to occur, the attending doctor needs to determine if an emergency cesarean section (C-section) is required by the applicable standard of care. A medical provider can and should be held legally accountable if they fail to act within the reasonable standard of care.  If the doctor violates the applicable standard of care and causes injury to the infant, the parents of the infant can file a medical negligence lawsuit against the doctor and hospital.

Common Symptoms of Brachial Plexus Injuries 

The most serious brachial plexus injury (avulsion) occurs when the nerve root is ripped and/or torn from the spinal cord during the delivery process. Symptoms of this injury, in its most severe form, can include weakness, decreased sensation, and/or an inability to use certain muscles in the hand, shoulder, and arm. While an infant’s condition can improve with medical intervention, physical therapy, and/or surgery, some victims never recover mobility or sensation in the upper extremities. 

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

A concerned parent needs to consult with a personal injury attorney if they believe their newborn is exhibiting the signs and symptoms of a birth injury.  At Barry Regar APLC, our compassionate and knowledgeable birth injury lawyer has over 40 years of legal experience and a comprehensive understanding of this multifaceted legal process. We can investigate the incident and review your infant’s medical records to determine if you have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim. With our help, you can seek to exercise your legal rights seeking fair and reasonable compensation that covers any existing and future medical expenses associated with your child’s condition as well as pain and suffering damages.

Contact Barry Regar APLC at (760) 440-5643 to discuss your case with an experienced legal representative.

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