Erb’s Palsy: Symptoms and Legal Rights

Staff Writer | April 4th, 2013

Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit Erb’s Palsy, also known as Brachial Plexus Paralysis, is a condition affecting between one and five of the primary nerves responsible for movement and sensation in the arms. It affects babies differently, causing complete paralysis in some, and partial paralysis in others. In cases where medical mistakes during childbirth are to blame, parents may be eligible for compensation through an Erb’s Palsy lawsuit. Successful litigation may result in damages to help offset the costs of treatment over the course of a life.

A number of factors may play a part in medical negligence resulting in Erb’s Palsy. Overworked midwives, inexperienced doctors and poor supervision of nurses can all contribute to small, but significant, errors. While some children may recover within a few months, others will suffer lifelong health complications. Physical therapy and surgery may be required.

The worst case scenario for Erb’s Palsy victims is avulsion, where the nerves are not only damaged, but completely torn. If a newborn has suffered this birth injury, there is usually no potential for recovery. In the delivery room, a number of circumstances can result in an Erb’s Palsy diagnosis:

  • The infant’s head or neck becoming twisted or pulled to the side while passing through the birth canal
  • Wrenching of the infant’s shoulders during vaginal delivery
  • Pressure building on the baby’s arms during a breech delivery

Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy

There are a number of warning signs indicative of Erb’s Palsy. The baby might show weakness or immobility in their upper arm, lower arm, hand, or the entire limb. The symptoms usually appear shortly after delivery.

Doctors diagnose the condition using X-rays and the Moro reflex test. The Moro reflex is an involuntary response present at birth. It usually disappears within four months. To check its presence, the infant is placed face up on a soft, padded surface. The head is gently lifted with enough support to remove the body weight from the pad. The head is then released suddenly, allowed to fall back and supported again before hitting the padding. If the reflex is working properly, the infant will flail their arms with the palms up and the thumbs flexed, before drawing the arms back to the body and relaxing.

Erb’s Palsy risk factors

The risk of Erb’s Palsy can be minimized by a C-section delivery. Physicians should spot the potential for a difficult delivery – and take appropriate steps – by looking for the following indicators:

  • Infants with an above-average weight
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Diabetes in the mother
  • Breech presentation

Eligibility for an Erb’s Palsy lawsuit

Some infants will recover the use of their arms as the nerves heal. If recovery occurs within 6 months without the need for surgery, the child should suffer no future complications.

According to the Data Sharing Project, a database of medical malpractice lawsuits compiled by the Physician Insurers Association of America, nearly 60% of brachial plexus lawsuits – including Erb’s Palsy lawsuits – resulted in an average payout of $301,000.

In instances of medical negligence, parents have legal grounds to pursue compensation to offset future medical costs associated with Erb’s Palsy.

If your child has suffered Erb’s Palsy or any other birth injury arising from doctor negligence, experienced New York medical malpractice lawyers at The Sanders Firm offer a no obligation consultation to help you determine eligibility for compensation. Call their offices today for a free evaluation at 1.800 FAIR PLAY (800.324.7752).

Erb’s palsy – Who is to blame and what will happen? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724163/