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Erb’s Palsy: Do I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?

The joys of childbirth are among the highest highs a person can experience in this life. But, with the human condition being what it is, even these wonderful moments are tinged with anxiety at the thought of bringing something so precious and delicate into the world. Too often parents are forced to deal with the agony of an infant’s health issues, whether permanent or temporary. While many of these health issues cannot be blamed on anyone, there are some cases where a neonatal condition is caused directly or indirectly by medical practitioners failing to conform to a reasonable standard of care. Erb’s palsy is one such condition that may justify medical malpractice claim.

What Is Erb’s Palsy?
Chubby baby arm

Erb’s palsy is a condition that affects one to two newborns out of every 1,000 born in the United States, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The condition is also known as shoulder dystocia or brachial plexus palsy, and it occurs as the result of injury to the arm’s major nerves. When these nerves are damaged, the arm loses sensation and motor function.

What Causes Erb’s Palsy?

By far, the most common cause of Erb’s palsy is difficulty during labor. When medical practitioners tug or pull the child through the birth canal, it can cause strain on the nerves, which are particularly prone to damage during the infant stage. There are several different ways this can happen. When a baby is born feet-first, the delivering doctor may pull from the feet, which may cause the baby’s arms to go up over the neck in an unnatural and harmful way. When the baby is born head/crown-first, the doctor may tug on the head, which may similarly strain the fragile nerves. Doctors are charged with a duty to care for both the mother and the unborn child, which requires them to provide competent and attentive care in all situations. A child developing Erb’s palsy may indicate that the doctor’s actions fell below this duty of care.

How Will an Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit Help My Child?

While Erb’s palsy can be a permanent condition, in many cases, it can be overcome with therapy. A medical malpractice lawsuit can seek compensatory damages to help cover the cost of therapy and, in the most severe cases, surgery, to help the child recover from Erb’s palsy and regain full use of their arms.

If your child has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney to see if you have a case. Compensation won through medical malpractice litigation can be a huge help to families facing steep medical bills to treat this largely preventable condition. At Leav & Steinberg LLP, our attorneys regularly handle medical malpractice claims, including Erb’s palsy claims, and we can advise you on your case. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.