Delivering a child is a common medical procedure in which countless complications can arise. Part of your doctor’s job is to anticipate these complications and be proactive about solving them.
If your child seems particularly large, for example, your provider may need to evaluate your birth canal and decide whether or not a C-section would be safer.
Compromised vaginal delivery can result in a newborn brachial plexus injury or other severe birth injuries.
If your child’s brachial plexus injury is connected to improper birthing techniques, or a failure to recognize obvious problems, you may be able to hold the doctor who delivered them accountable.
WHAT IS THE BRACHIAL PLEXUS?
The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves between your neck and shoulders that controls muscle function and feeling in your chest, shoulder, arms, and hands. This network of nerves is complex and remarkably fragile, and it is especially vulnerable during birth.
If a vaginal delivery doesn’t go as planned, a baby’s brachial plexus can be stretched, compressed or torn. That’s why it’s crucial for medical professionals to consider C-sections and other birthing options.
WHEN DO BRACHIAL PLEXUS INJURIES OCCUR?
Occasionally, infants do not assume the appropriate position for vaginal delivery and attempt to exit the birth canal feet-first. This is called a breech birth and it can put pressure on the baby’s raised arms.
Other factors that cause brachial plexus injuries include:
- Stretching of the infant’s shoulders during a headfirst delivery
- Head and neck pulling towards one side of the birth canal
- Shoulders that are too wide to fit through the birth canal
- Shoulder dystocia (when one or both shoulders get stuck in the pelvis)
- Extended labor (or compression inside the womb)
- Larger-than-average newborns
While some of these problems are difficult to anticipate, other issues (such as those with the infant and the birth canal) can be addressed before birth.
If doctors realize that a breech birth is impending, they can even order an emergency C-section to mitigate the risk of a brachial plexus injury.
Essentially, if a doctor does not do all they can to prevent a brachial plexus injury, or if they do not behave how another medical professional would in their exact situation, they are considered negligent.
WHAT ARE TYPES OF BRACHIAL PLEXUS INJURIES?
We can categorize brachial plexus injuries according to the location and severity of the nerve damage. Injuries can fall into 1 of 4 categories, or manifest in other forms.
STRETCH (NEURAPRAXIA) INJURIES
Stretch injuries occur when the nerve has been stretched but not torn. They occur outside of the spinal cord and nerves can sometimes recover on their own within 3 months. Stretch injuries are the most common form of brachial plexus injuries.
In a rupture, the nerves are torn, but not where they attach to the spine. This injury also occurs outside of the spinal cord, but it may require surgical repair.
Avulsion injuries take place when nerve roots are torn from the spinal cord. Fortunately, this injury is less common. Unfortunately, it cannot be surgically repaired and requires damaged tissue to be replaced via nerve transfer. Avulsion can also injure the diaphragm and compromise breathing or cause a droopy eyelid on the affected side.
When a nerve tries to heal, scar tissue can form. In neuroma, this scar tissue presses against the injured nerve or interferes with nerve function. Neuroma not only requires surgical treatment, but also necessitates nerve reconstruction and secondary tendon transfers.
- Erb’s palsy causes a weakness in shoulder muscles and biceps. Children with Erb’s palsy must engage in physical therapy to prevent stiffness, atrophy, and dislocation of the shoulder.
- Total plexus involvement causes paralysis of the shoulder, arm, and/or hand.
- Horner’s syndrome is associated with avulsion and results in eye injuries, including ptosis (drooping eyelid) and miosis (smaller pupil of the eye). This injury can also diminish sweat production in parts of the face.
Like other medical errors, birth injuries are often preventable.
WHY OPEN A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASE?
If your child receives a brachial plexus injury at birth, their treatment will likely be expensive. Additionally, the injury could cause disabilities, syndromes, or other long-term consequences.
As a parent, you will want to give your child the best resources and medical care available. Filing a lawsuit can equip you with the financial resources you need to accomplish this goal.
You should not have to worry about your child’s health or your family’s finances because someone else made a mistake.
WHY HIRE OUR FIRM?
At The Mellino Law Firm, we are here so you can split the burden of your child’s injury with the responsible party. We are also here so you don’t have to do it alone.
Filing a lawsuit is, ultimately, the only way you can achieve justice, and our firm is highly equipped to handle medical malpractice suits and achieve real results.