Can Medical Malpractice Cause Erb’s Palsy and Shoulder Dystocia

A lot of different problems and complications can happen during pregnancy and the delivery of a child. In some cases, these complications lead to permanent injuries and costly disabilities that the child and his or her parents must endure.

Two of the most common birth injuries that children may suffer from include Erb’s palsy and shoulder dystocia. In both cases, these may result in lifelong injuries due to the tearing of nerves during childbirth.

What is Erb’s palsy?

Erb’s palsy happens when nerves in the baby’s neck, shoulder or arms become torn or damaged. Several uncontrollable factors can contribute to the risk of Erb’s palsy, such as the mother having diabetes or the baby being extra large — over nine pounds usually. If it’s the mother’s first pregnancy, it can also put the baby at higher risk of contracting this injury.

Doctors can monitor a mother while she is pregnant to minimize the risks of Erb’s palsy. If the baby is too large for a vaginal birth, for example, the doctor can advise a Caesarian section.

What is shoulder dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is similar to Erb’s palsy because it relates to the tearing of nerves, specifically in the shoulder region. This medical condition and birth injury happens when the baby’s shoulder girdle becomes lodged in the birth canal. Like Erb’s palsy, extra-large babies and mothers with diabetes run a higher risk of shoulder dystocia. A mother who has twins or triplets, an obese mother or a late delivery also increases the risk of shoulder dystocia. It’s important for doctors to monitor the condition of the mother and baby before and during birth to take action to prevent this kind of injury.

Can I pursue a medical malpractice case?

In the case of a personal injury lawsuit relating to a birth injury like Erb’s palsy or shoulder dystocia, the question of whether malpractice occurred will depend on whether the doctor did everything he or she was supposed to do to prevent the resulting injuries. In this sense, did the doctor provide treatment to the patient in the same way that another reasonable doctor would have, given the circumstances?

If the doctor’s actions (or inactions) fell outside the standard of care that another reasonable doctor would have provided — and if this directly caused injuries to the patient — then a claim for medical malpractice can be made.

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