What Are the Causes and Consequences of Erb’s Palsy?

child with Erb's Palsy - causes and consequences of Erb's Palsy

If your child has been diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy, you’re likely dealing with emotional distress, mounting medical bills, and uncertainty about your child’s future. If this condition resulted from medical negligence during childbirth, you have the right to seek justice and compensation for your family’s pain and suffering.

Finz & Finz, P.C., a New York law firm with a proven track record, is committed to helping families like yours. Over the years, we have recovered more than one billion dollars in fair compensation for our clients through settlements and trial verdicts. Contact us to explore your legal options for an Erb’s Palsy malpractice case in a free initial consultation.

What Is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s Palsy is a birth injury that affects the brachial plexus, a complex network of nerves responsible for controlling the muscles in the arm and hand. This injury commonly results from excessive pulling or force, especially in difficult births where the shoulder gets stuck during vaginal delivery. As a result, the affected infant can suffer from varying degrees of arm weakness, loss of motion, or even paralysis in more severe cases. 

Symptoms can range from mild functional impairments to significant physical limitations affecting the child’s ability to perform everyday tasks like lifting their arm or grasping objects. Treatment for Erb’s Palsy often includes physical therapy, surgical interventions, and ongoing medical care, which can be costly and emotionally draining for families. In some instances, Erb’s Palsy can result from malpractice.

What Are the Symptoms of Erb’s Palsy?

Early diagnosis is essential if you suspect your child developed Erb’s Palsy due to medical negligence during childbirth. Timely recognition not only aids in effective medical intervention but can also support your case if you decide to pursue legal action for medical malpractice. 

Here are some common Erb’s Palsy symptoms to look out for:

  • Arm Bent at Elbow: Some children’s arms are bent at the elbow and held against the body.
  • Asymmetry in Reflexes: Children with Erb’s Palsy commonly have uneven or absent reflexes in the affected arm compared to the unaffected arm.
  • Impaired Motor Skills: The child might have trouble grasping objects or using the affected hand.
  • Limited Mobility: The child might struggle to lift the arm or make normal arm movements.
  • Loss of Sensation: The child might not feel touch or pain in the affected arm.
  • Paralysis: In severe cases, the child might be unable to move the affected arm.
  • Weakness in One Arm: The affected arm might appear noticeably weaker than the other.

What Are the Long-Term Consequences of Erb’s Palsy?

If Erb’s Palsy is left untreated or particularly severe, it can have long-term consequences that last into adulthood. Below are some common examples of the long-term effects of Erb’s Palsy:

  • Chronic Pain: Persistent pain in the affected arm that requires ongoing medication or therapy
  • Effects on Career and Education: Difficulty with fine motor skills could limit career options and hinder academic performance
  • Financial Burdens: The long-term care, surgeries, and physical therapy necessary to treat Erb’s Palsy can be expensive, leading to significant financial burdens for families
  • Joint Problems: Limited mobility can result in joint issues, including premature arthritis
  • Muscle Atrophy: Lack of use can lead to muscle wasting, further weakening the arm
  • Permanent Disability: In severe cases, the arm might never attain full functionality
  • Psychological Effects: Self-esteem and emotional well-being can suffer, especially if the condition limits the individual’s ability to participate in normal activities

What Causes Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s Palsy often results from injuries to the brachial plexus during childbirth. While some of these injuries are unavoidable due to natural complications, far too many cases arise from malpractice. 

Here are some common forms of medical negligence that could lead to Erb’s Palsy:

  • Delayed C-Sections: A Cesarean section is sometimes the safest delivery method. Failure to recommend this method in a timely manner can increase the risk of nerve damage to the child.
  • Failure to Anticipate Shoulder Dystocia: Medical professionals are trained to identify high-risk situations, such as large infants or mothers with gestational diabetes. Failing to anticipate and prepare for shoulder dystocia can result in nerve damage during delivery.
  • Improper Use of Force: Excessive pulling or twisting of the baby’s head, neck, or shoulders during delivery can stretch or tear the brachial plexus nerves, leading to Erb’s Palsy.
  • Inadequate Monitoring: Failing to properly monitor the infant’s position and vital signs during labor can result in missed opportunities to prevent brachial plexus injuries.
  • Mishandling of Instruments: Incorrect or forceful use of medical instruments like forceps or vacuum extractors can directly cause nerve injuries.

How Do You Prove Erb’s Palsy Resulted from Malpractice?

Building a strong medical malpractice case requires thorough investigation and meticulous evidence gathering. Medical malpractice lawyers usually collaborate with medical experts to establish that a healthcare provider failed to meet the standard of care and that this failure directly resulted in harm.

Common types of evidence that malpractice lawyers use to prove Erb’s Palsy cases include the following:

  • Correspondence between medical staff regarding the case
  • Hospital policies and procedures related to labor and delivery
  • Logs and charts from the labor and delivery room
  • Medical records for mother and baby
  • Medical staff training records
  • Past complaints against the healthcare provider or facility
  • Pictures of the baby’s injuries
  • Pre-birth ultrasound reports showing the baby’s size and position
  • Records of fetal monitoring during labor
  • Records of any medical equipment used during delivery
  • Reports from internal investigations, if available
  • Testimony from medical experts who can speak to the standard of care
  • Witness testimony from nurses, doctors, or other medical staff 

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Malpractice Case?

Yes. Retaining the services of a medical malpractice lawyer is essential if you believe your child’s Erb’s Palsy resulted from medical negligence. A knowledgeable malpractice lawyer can perform an in-depth investigation, collect valuable evidence, and seek the opinions of medical experts to substantiate your case. Their skills and knowledge can help you understand your legal options and optimize your chances of a favorable outcome through a settlement or court proceedings.

Contact an Erb’s Palsy Lawyer Today

Don’t let medical negligence rob your child of a fulfilling future. If you suspect that your child’s Erb’s Palsy is the result of malpractice, Finz & Finz, P.C. is here to help. 

Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.