If complications arise during childbirth, the obstetrician may decide to use forceps or other tools to assist with delivery. While often necessary, forceps births can cause their own problems. Twisting or moving the baby in the womb can cause damage to the brachial plexus nerves in their shoulder. Torn or stretched nerves can cause partial or total paralysis in the affected arm.

This is known as Erb’s palsy. While most infants with Erb’s palsy recover nerve function within their first year, in many cases, the effects are irreversible. Long-term, patients can experience the following symptoms:

  • Abnormal joint movement and function
  • Decreased strength and stamina
  • Atrophied muscles
  • Osteoarthritis
  • The affected arm being a different length than the other one
  • Problem with coordination or balance

While the extent of the disability may not be as severe as a condition like cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy can greatly affect a child’s quality of life and self-esteem, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

How malpractice can cause Erb’s palsy

Erb’s palsy can be the unfortunate but unavoidable result of difficult labor. But it also occurs as the result of negligence by the obstetrician in charge of helping the mother give birth. Improper handling of the forceps and unnecessary delays in ordering a cesarean section are two ways a doctor can directly contribute to a newborn’s Erb’s palsy.

No child should have to pay for a doctor’s mistakes. Likewise, as the parents of a child who has suffered the effects of medical malpractice, you should not have to pay for any resulting surgeries and other medical care. Finally, if your child is going to live with a disabled arm or shoulder for the rest of their lives, the doctor, hospital or clinic that allowed this to happen may be held financially responsible.

Discuss your case with a qualified lawyer

To learn more about if your child’s birth injury can be compensated, consult a medical malpractice attorney.