Medical Mistakes that Cause Brachial Plexus Injury at Birth

A baby laying on its belly being checked by a doctor for signs of brachial plexus injury at birth

When parents arrive at the hospital to deliver their baby, there is a whirlwind of activity and an overwhelming sense of anticipation. But, when something goes wrong and leads to a birth injury, it leaves parents worried and disoriented. A brachial plexus injury at birth is one of the most common birth injuries caused by medical malpractice or negligence during delivery. Our birth injury attorneys are prepared to determine the medical mistakes made and fight for the rightful compensation to help your family heal.

What Causes a Brachial Plexus Injury at Birth

The brachial plexus is a group of nerves located around the shoulder that runs from the spinal cord through the collarbone and upper extremities. These nerves provide feeling and movement to the shoulders, arms and hands. When a brachial plexus injury occurs, it can stretch or tear the baby’s brachial plexus nerves.

In difficult delivery situations, brachial plexus injuries are potentially caused from:

  • Shoulder dystocia. This common injury results when a baby’s shoulders cannot fit through the birth canal and it poses a high risk for a brachial plexus injury at birth.
  • Delivering a large baby. A higher birth weight may result in a longer labor or the inability to deliver vaginally without harming the baby’s brachial plexus nerves.
  • Improper use of medical instruments. Doctors must proceed with great care when using items such as forceps and vacuum extractors to avoid harm to the baby’s neck or shoulders as it is assisted out of the birth canal.
  • Breech deliveries. A feet-first or bottom-first delivery may result in a doctor needing to rotate the baby’s head to get it through the birth canal, increasing the risk for brachial plexus injuries.

Long-Term Health Issues from Brachial Plexus Injuries

The last thing a family wants to hear is their baby now has a lifelong health issue resulting from a birth injury. Brachial plexus injuries may lead to long-term conditions such as paralysis, avulsions and neuromas.

One of the most common conditions caused from a severe brachial plexus injury at birth is Erb’s Palsy. This condition results from a medical professional using too much force to deliver a baby, leading to temporary or permanent paralysis. If a doctor is attentive to your baby’s growth prior to delivery and takes the proper precautions to prepare for potential difficulties during birth, Erb’s Palsy and additional brachial plexus injuries can be avoided.

Building a Case for Brachial Plexus Injury at Birth

Medical professionals can often predict the scenarios when a brachial plexus injury at birth could occur. However, if they fail to recognize the potential for an injury during birth, you may have a viable claim for compensation due to medical malpractice. Most birth injury cases from brachial plexus complications can occur if:

  • The doctor fails to order a c-section when the baby’s size is too large to fit through the birth canal.
  • The doctor uses excessive force on the baby’s head and neck at the time of delivery.
  • The baby was not rotated correctly inside the birth canal during delivery.
  • The doctor improperly used medical devices such as forceps when extracting the baby from the birth canal.
  • The doctor did not carefully adjust the baby’s shoulder during delivery.
  • The doctor misread an ultrasound and misdiagnosed the baby’s breech delivery.

For example, our team resolved several lawsuits for children who suffered a brachial plexus injury at birth. During delivery, the children sustained a permanent brachial plexus injury from the excessive force exerted by the doctor to relieve the child’s shoulder from the birth canal rather than conducting a c-section. The children were awarded compensation to care for their  medical expenses throughout their lifetime.

Your Advocate in Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries

At Zevan Davidson Roman, we understand a safe delivery and healthy baby is all your family desires. When the unexpected strikes, our team of attorneys are ready to help guide you through the malpractice claim process. If you suspect your baby’s severe brachial plexus injury at birth occurred from medical negligence, contact our birth injury attorneys to start gathering evidence and build your claim.

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