Erb's Palsy Claims and Birth Injury Compensation
Our medical negligence team specialises in Erb's palsy claims. Our experienced team has won many Erb's palsy cases recovering substantial damages for our clients on a 'no win, no fee' basis. We are recommended solicitors for The Erb's Palsy Group, the only UK based organisation offering advice, information and support to families affected by Erb's Palsy.
Brachial Plexus Palsy, also known as Erb’s Palsy, is a condition that is mainly caused by birth trauma. It is caused by excessive traction on the child's head, neck or shoulders during birth and delivery.
An Erb's palsy case is caused when the nerves of a baby's neck are damaged during child birth. Normally Erb's Palsy arises when during labour the baby's shoulders get trapped in the birth cannel. This causes the baby's chest and umbilical chord to be compressed, which prevents the baby from being able to breath.
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Any inappropriate traction applied during delivery can result in strain of the brachial plexus nerves. Claims for compensation usually fall into two main categories:
- Failure to arrange a caesarean section in cases where shoulder dystocia should have been anticipated; or
- Negligent handling of shoulder dystocia as a result of failure to follow established procedures
If medical staff use excessive force or methods in an attempt to try and free and deliver the baby, this can cause nerve damage to the baby's brachial plexus.
The brachial plexus is a large network of nerves running from the neck to the arm. These nerves provide movement and feeling to the arm and hand. Erb's Palsy can affect any or all of the 5 primary nerves that supply the movement and feeling to an arm.
Paralysis can be partial or complete. The damage to each nerve can range from bruising to tearing. Some injuries recover on their own, however some babies are left with a permanent disability that requires specialist treatment.
Erb’s Palsy signs
A classic sign is an elbow which does not bend and the hand being held in a 'waiters tip' (turning backwards) position.
When a nerve is damaged, weakness or paralysis can affect the arm and hand. Signs of this may also include a limp hand and there may be an associated Horner’s syndrome where the eyelid droops and the pupil is slightly smaller on the same side as the weak arm.
The baby may also have an associated Torticollis. Torticollis is where the baby faces away from their affected arm and is unable to face forward for any length of time.
A nerve that has been severely damaged but still remains connected may heal, but scar tissue may form at the site of injury. This scar tissue may stop the electrical messages that run through the nerves, so they can't get to the muscles. A nerve that is completely pulled apart (avulsion) cannot repair itself, so the muscles it supplies are paralysed.
It may be possible for the child to have an operation to help the nerve and restore some function to the muscle, but often the child will still be left with some weakness in the arm. About one in ten children need surgery to help improve function of the arm.
Erb's Palsy Claim
An Erb’s Palsy claim can only be pursued if the Erb's palsy was the result of medical negligence in the management of the pregnancy and/or delivery. Some factors that are relevant in determining whether you may have an Erb's palsy claim include:
- failure to estimate a large baby's weight and size prior to delivery (especially if there are clinical signs indicating a large baby and/or a prior history of previous pregnancies with large babies)
- failure to perform a caesarean section when there are clinical indications to do so
- failure to recognise and treat maternal diabetes (maternal diabetes often increases the risk of having a large baby)
- failure to follow protocols for shoulder dystocia (there are various maneuovres that need to be applied by the doctor if the baby becomes stuck in the birth canal)
- applying unnecessary and excessive traction or force during the delivery which then results in injury
For further information or if you believe you have suffered as a result of Erb's Palsy or Birth Injury that could have been avoided. please contact us.
- You can speak to any member of our Medical Negligence team on freephone 0800 358 3848
- e-Mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or,
- Complete our short enquiry form.
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