Erb’s Palsy

Welcome to the Kopec Law Firm’s website page dedicated to Erb’s palsy. Here, we will provide you with in-depth information about this condition, including its definition and cause, diagnosis, medical professionals involved, severity levels, treatment options, and the filing a medical malpractice case. Attorney Mark Kopec will speak with you when you need a Maryland Erb’s palsy lawyer.

Maryland Erb’s Palsy Lawyer Answers: What is Erb’s Palsy and What Causes It?

Erb’s palsy, also known as Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy, is a birth injury that affects the shoulder and upper arm nerves. During a vaginal delivery, the baby descends the birth canal. During this process, the baby’s shoulder may become stuck on the mother’s pubic bone or sacrum. This impaction is a shoulder dystocia.

A shoulder dystocia obstructs the baby from being delivered. Consequently, the ob/gyn must recognize the shoulder dystocia and take steps to free the stuck shoulder. Erb’s palsy injury happens when the doctor attempts to accomplish delivery by using traction, or pulling, on the baby’s head. The shoulder dystocia prevents the baby from advancing. As a result, the doctor’s pulling stretches the baby’s neck. This traction stretches the Brachial plexus nerves on one side that run from the neck down the arm. On that side, the pulling injures the baby’s arm.

Risk Factors

There are identified risk factors for Erb’s palsy. When present, these can increase the possibility of a baby having Erb’s palsy.

  • Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that women who don’t already have diabetes can get during pregnancy. It affects 2-10% of pregnancies. One of the dangers of gestational diabetes is that it can result in a large baby. A large baby can be more likely to have its shoulder get stuck during the birth process.
  • Fetal macrosomia is a condition that causes a large baby. Diabetes or obesity in the parent can cause it.
  • An instrument-assisted delivery uses forceps or a vacuum.
  • Prolonged labor is defined as 20 or more hours of contractions and occurs in 8% of births.
  • A breech delivery is when the baby’s buttocks, feet, or both may come out first.

The Maryland Erb’s palsy lawyer can review your medical records to see if you had risk factors that made your child prone to Erb’s palsy.

How is a Doctor Supposed to Handle a Shoulder Dystocia?

The first thing the doctor can do is the McRoberts maneuver. The doctor and nurses bring the mother’s thighs up to her abdomen and shift them away from the body (hip abduction). As they do this, the mother’s pelvis rotates, and her sacrum opens. This opening can free the stuck shoulder.

Nurses often simultaneously administer suprapubic pressure. They use their palm or fist to press on the mother’s abdomen above the pubic bone and apply pressure downward. This pressure can work with the McRoberts maneuver to dislodge the shoulder, but they do not always work.

If the McRoberts maneuver and suprapubic pressure do not work, the doctor can try two other things. To prepare for them, the doctor may want to do an episiotomy. An episiotomy is a cut in the tissue of the perineum, which is the tissue between the vagina and anus. It can give the doctor more room to access to the baby to address the stuck shoulder.

Picture of cutting an episiotomy
Episiotomy

The doctor can next choose between two approaches. One is to deliver the arm or shoulder that is not stuck. That is the posterior one. Doing so can cause the stuck shoulder to become dislodged and be delivered. The other choice is to do rotational maneuvers. These rotate one of the shoulders to release the stuck shoulder.

The Maryland Erb’s palsy lawyer can examine your medical records to see if the doctor attempted these steps in delivering your child.

Erb’s Palsy Injury

Unfortunately, even when the doctor can relieve the stuck shoulder, the baby often suffers an Erb’s palsy injury from when the doctor pulls on the baby’s head and stretches the nerves. The following image shows the Brachial Plexus nerves that run from the cervical spine down the arm.

The Brachial Plexus nerves run from the cervical spine down the arm and are injured in Erb's palsy.
Brachial Plexus Nerves

Diagnosis of Erb’s Palsy

To diagnose Erb’s palsy, a medical professional will typically physically examine the newborn. They will assess the baby’s range of motion, muscle strength, and reflexes in the affected arm. The doctors may conduct additional diagnostic tests, such as nerve conduction studies or electromyography, to evaluate the extent of nerve damage.

Medical Professionals Involved

Pediatricians, neonatologists, and orthopedic specialists typically diagnose Erb’s palsy. These healthcare professionals have the expertise to assess and diagnose the condition accurately. They may work together to develop an appropriate treatment plan based on the severity of the injury.

Severity levels

The severity of Erb’s palsy can vary depending on the extent of nerve damage. In mild cases, the condition may resolve independently within a few months with proper care and physical therapy. However, more severe cases can lead to long-term or permanent disability. Common symptoms include limited mobility, muscle weakness, and loss of sensation in the affected arm.

Maryland Erb’s Palsy Lawyer Describes Treatment Options

Treatment for Erb’s palsy focuses on improving range of motion, strength, and function in the affected arm. Therefore, physical therapy is crucial in rehabilitation, with exercises and techniques promoting muscle strength and flexibility. Additionally, surgical intervention may sometimes be necessary to repair or reconstruct damaged nerves or muscles.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Case with the Maryland Erb’s Palsy Lawyer

If your child has Erb’s palsy, medical malpractice may have caused it. Pursuing a claim involves gathering evidence to demonstrate that the healthcare provider failed to meet the standard of care expected in such situations, resulting in the injury. It is essential to consult with an experienced Maryland Erb’s palsy lawyer who can guide you through the legal process and help you understand your rights and options. Even if your child is a teenager, pursuing a claim may not be too late.

Call the Kopec Law Firm to speak directly with attorney Mark Kopec. He is a top-rated Maryland Erb’s palsy lawyer. Mark has 30+ years of legal experience and has helped many families affected by Erb’s palsy. He will advise you on your Erb’s palsy medical malpractice case. Contact us at 800-604-0704 for your free consultation.

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