Birth Injury: Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy, also known as brachial plexus palsy, is an avoidable birth injury that results in a condition of partial or complete paralyzation of the infant’s arm.

How does Erb’s palsy occur?

Erb’s palsy typically occurs when a baby’s shoulder gets caught by the mother’s pelvic bone, causing damage to the baby’s brachial plexus–the bundle of nerves responsible for shoulder, arm, and hand movement.

What are the common causes of Erb’s palsy?

A majority of Erb’s palsy cases in infants are the result of medical negligence or improper medical care, such as:

  • A doctor using excessive force when pulling on the infant’s head and neck as the shoulders pass through the birth canal.
  • A doctor using excessive force when pulling on the infant’s shoulders during a head first delivery.
  • A doctor pulling on the infant’s feet during a breech (feet first) delivery, which results in too much pressure applied on the infant’s raised arms.

Can Erb’s palsy be avoided?

Outside of a few rare exceptions, Erb’s palsy is considered medically preventable. Some commonly used methods to prevent an infant from suffering Erb’s palsy include the following:

  • The Wood’s Corkscrew Maneuver:
  • The obstetrician reaches into the birth canal and rotates the infant’s shoulders to free the infant’s arm from the mother’s pelvic bone.
  • The McRoberts Maneuver:
  • Both of the mother’s legs are flexed so that her thighs are pushed towards the mother’s abdomen.
  • Suprapubic Pressure:
  • Pressure is applied to the mother’s lower abdomen in order to dislodge the infant’s shoulder from underneath the mother’s pubic bone.

Additionally, your doctor should be monitoring patients with the most common risk factors of Erb’s palsy, which include the following:

  • An extended pregnancy (40+ weeks).
  • Mothers with diabetes.
  • High birth weight babies.
  • Overweight mothers.
  • A contracted or flat pelvis.

What should I do if a loved one has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy?

If you had any of the risk factors for Erb’s palsy and/or the doctor failed to utilize the commonly accepted methods for delivery, the doctor may be responsible. You should contact the lawyers at Lopez McHugh without delay because every state has deadlines for when compensation may be pursued. The attorneys of Lopez McHugh will thoroughly investigate your case and advise you of the merits and challenges involved. Contact us now for an initial consultation, free of charge. If we agree to accept your case we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means that we get paid for our services only if there is a recovery by way of settlement or verdict.

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