Many people leave the hospital every year without a full understanding of what a brachial plexus injury entails and why their newborn received one while they were in the hospital. A brachial plexus injury in a newborn is a loss of movement or weakness in the arm that occurs when nerves in the shoulder are damaged. Typically, the number one cause of this is a difficult delivery that ends up damaging the nerves. In some cases, this could be due to medical malpractice and a parent may choose to sue for the injuries.
Some of the reasons why these injuries occur is because the infant’s head and neck are pulled to the side when the shoulders are passing through the birth canal, the infant’s shoulders stretch during head-first delivery, or because of pressure on the baby’s arms when they are delivered breech. Some of the risk factors of these injuries actually include a breech delivery, having a larger-than-normal newborn, or when there is a difficult birth because the baby’s shoulders won’t come out easily. Typically, parents and doctors will be able to see symptoms right away or soon following the birth, such as no movement of the newborn’s arm or hand, absent moro reflex on the affected side, or decreased grip on the affected side.
The prognosis for brachial plexus injuries can be a bit frustrating for parents because the recovery time can cause limitations to the child until they are fully healed. Of course, there is also the chance that a child will not recover from their injuries. Many babies will recover within 3 to 9 months; however, others will not recover due to a separation of the nerve root from the spinal cord. In some cases, surgery can fix this but not all the time. Permanent paralysis may occur and the child may not be able to move their arm the same way again.
Liability for Brachial Plexus Injuries
If your child is injured in one of these medical accidents, you may wonder who is responsible and what you can do to take action. The truth is, these accidents are not uncommon – they occur about two times in every 1,000 births. Those in medical positions are supposed to be advanced in deliveries and lessening the risks of these debilitating accidents. Healthcare providers are even expected to anticipate possible risk factors, such as diabetes during pregnancy, overweight mothers, and other problems that can contribute to these disorders. This means that it is up to them to recommend a C-section instead in the event that there are many risks.
On the other hand, medical malpractice may also occur when a physician fails to react accordingly during the birth of the infant. For instance, they may pull too hard on the baby’s head during delivery, causing this issue. If negligence occurred and the baby suffered because of it, then the victim will be entitled to compensation for things like partial disability and pain and suffering. This is why you should have an experienced attorney on your side if you suspect that negligence was at play during the birth of your newborn. Call us today for more information.