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What Your OB-GYN Probably Hasn’t Told You
If you are an expectant mother, you’ve probably had your fair share of doctor’s visits, each being a chance to load up on information as you prepare to welcome a new baby into your life.
You’ve gone through prenatal checklists, talked about birthing preferences, learned about pregnancy risk factors and more. But has your OB-GYN ever talked to you about brachial plexus injuries?
The truth is, you likely won’t hear about this type of birth injury unless you, your child or someone you know experiences it. Even then, information can be surprisingly difficult to come by.
But did you know that more children suffer from brachial plexus injuries sustained at birth than Down Syndrome or Muscular Dystrophy?
It’s true. That’s why it’s helpful to know the basics on this topic, including and especially this:
These types of birth injuries typically can be avoided.
When we see these injuries, it’s usually due to some type of negligence by the physician or health care professional.
If negligence has occurred, you have legal recourse.
Our office has an established track record of recovering compensation in these types of cases.
So let’s talk more about what you would need to know, if your child were to suffer from a brachial plexus injury at birth.
What You Need to Know
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves located in and around the shoulder. If these nerves are damaged during birth, the child could experience loss of movement or weakness in the arm. In the worst cases and/or without proper treatment, this could lead to lifelong pain and restricted movement or paralysis.
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It is estimated that 2 to 5 out of every 1,000 infants born experience some type of brachial plexus injury. Telltale signs are if your infant’s arm hangs limp, they exhibit a “clawed hand” or have weak grip or numbness.
Erb’s Palsey results when the nerves on the upper half of the brachial plexus are damaged. It affects the upper arm.
Klumpke’s Palsey occurs in nerves on the lower half are injured. It is less common and affects the hand and lower part of the arm.
Brachial plexus injuries are typically seen in difficult deliveries, often where the baby is forcefully pulled during labor.
But it’s important to remember: Most of these injuries are preventable.
We say this, because there are well-known risk factors for brachial plexus injuries, including: gestational diabetes, an overdue and/or large baby, previous birth to a large baby, maternal obesity, a breech baby and/or prolonged labor.
With larger babies in particular, there is a risk of shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulders become lodged in the mother’s pelvic area and the physician has to use certain tools or pulling to help the baby along.
Your physician should be aware of these risk factors and able to take extra precautions if they are present during delivery. Because there are still ways to deliver the baby without injury.
The brachial plexus injury cases we handle typically involve any of the following:
- The physician handling the infant too roughly during delivery
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction
- The medical team failed to call for an emergency C-section when needed
An injury like this not only puts stress on the baby during and after labor, but in more severe cases, it can lead to a lifetime of pain, physical therapy, invasive tests and possible surgeries.
How We Can Help
Our job is to determine and prove negligence, which in this case would be if the physician failed to recognize known risk factors, failed to recognize problems during labor, and/or otherwise acted improperly.
We will also assess your damages. Because as you will learn, caring for the needs of a baby with this type of injury can be costly.
Our recovery could include compensation for any of the following:
- Surgery, medication, physical therapy, occupational therapy, surgery and/or medication
- Travel to and from appointments
- Medical devices, such as braces, splints, casts, etc. and/or home accommodations
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages for the caregiver and/or future lost wages for the child
Most important is to know you have options, and we can help you. Not everyone realizes they have legal recourse in these situations.
So if your baby has suffered a brachial plexus injury and you suspect medical negligence may have caused it, contact our office for a free consultation. You have a right to sue the responsible party.