If your baby has been diagnosed Erb’s Palsy, you will undoubtedly be devastated by the news. You will also probably be wondering why it has happened. Was it an unavoidable event that no action could have prevented? Or could your baby’s injury have been avoided with the right medical treatment?
What is Erb’s Palsy?
Erb’s Palsy is a serious birth injury that occurs when the baby’s shoulders gets stuck in the birth canal, compressing the chest and umbilical cord. This will prevent the baby from being able to breath – something which is evidently very dangerous. If the baby is starved of oxygen for too long, it may lead to brain damage or even death. Therefore medical professionals must act quickly to remove the baby from the birth canal, or the consequences could be highly distressing.
If a baby’s shoulders do become stuck, it may be necessary to perform an episiotomy to widen the vagina for delivery, and to use forceps or a ventouse to expedite the birth. Occasionally a significant amount of force will be needed to free the baby from the birth canal. However, all this can damage the baby’s neck and shoulders, harming the brachial plexus nerves that serve the neck and arms. This is known as Erb’s Palsy or brachial plexus injury.
The extent of the injury will vary from case to case according to how much damage the nerves have sustained. In some babies the injury will be immediately evident as their arms and neck will not function properly. In others the problem may only become apparent after several months when abnormal development is noticed.
However, it is important that Erb’s Palsy is diagnosed as quickly as possible. Indeed, it is a condition that can be rectified with physical therapy and, if necessary, surgical treatment. Nevertheless, this should be provided in the early stages of the condition, as this will ensure a baby as the best chance of recovery.
Who is to blame for my baby’s Erb’s Palsy?
But not all babies will regain normal function. Some will suffer symptoms into childhood and may even have problems for the rest of their lives. Some will even require long-term assistance. This of course can be very expensive, and it is possible that you will run into financial difficulties when trying to fund care for your child.
If so, there might be something you can do, as you might be able to claim compensation. It will, however, be necessary to establish that medical professionals were to blame for your child’s injuries. Of course, doctors will not always be responsible, as often they are only trying to avoid the dire consequences that come with a traumatic delivery – namely, the occurrence of brain damage due to oxygen starvation.
But if your baby was known to be extremely large, you should have been offered a caesarean section. If there was a failure to do so and your baby suffered nerve damage, you will be entitled to make a claim. Furthermore, if medical professionals are found to have used inappropriate techniques to free your baby from the birth canal, thereby causing Erb’s Palsy to develop, the standard of care will have fallen to a substandard level. Again, this means you will be entitled to make a claim.
Speak to us today
To find out whether medical professionals are to blame for your baby’s pain and suffering, contact one of our medical negligence solicitors today. We will be able to advise whether or not you and your family have been the victim of gross medical errors.