5 Signs of Medical Negligence to Look for in Your Erb’s Palsy Case

medical negligence

Was your baby healthy in the womb but now has Erb’s palsy? Do you suspect that there was medical negligence involved?

Erb’s palsy cases are a common type of birth injury lawsuit. If you’re considering pursuing an Erb’s palsy case, you’ll want to look for and understand these five signs of malpractice to help your case. Your goal is to prove that medical negligence was present!

What Is Erb’s Palsy?

First and foremost, you must understand what Erb’s palsy is. Don’t confuse it with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is the result of a brain abnormality.

Erb’s palsy, on the other hand, is the result of a shoulder injury at birth. It didn’t exist in the womb and it only exists because of the injury during or right after birth.

This condition usually occurs because a provider pulls at the baby too hard or in the wrong way, and it damages nerves in the baby’s shoulder. This is considered medical malpractice.

The damage from Erb’s palsy can wear off in time, or it can be a lifelong disability. Either way, the charge is very serious.

For this reason, you can pursue a medical negligence case against a provider who may have caused your child’s Erb’s palsy. Here are five signs of medical negligence to keep an eye out for:

1. Excessive or Aggressive Pulling

Erb’s palsy is caused by improper delivery, which includes excessive or aggressive pulling, tugging, or yanking on the baby. The improper pulling doesn’t even have to occur on the arm to cause Erb’s palsy! Damage to the head can cause paralysis in the arm.

For example, one baby in New York was left with lifelong partial paralysis in one arm when the delivering doctor pulled with excessive force on her head. Her parents won an unprecedented amount in their medical negligence case, thanks to their medical malpractice lawyers.

If you as parents suspect that your baby’s Erb’s palsy resulted from your provider using excessive or aggressive force, consider talking to a malpractice attorney. They’ll know ways to get the information and proof you need.

2. Improper Tool Use

You might have imagined birth to just be the mom pushing and the doctor catching. But sometimes tools are necessary to guide the baby out. One of those tools is the infamous forceps.

Forceps look kind of like a large, sturdy pair of metal tongs. They’re used to get the baby out of the birth canal if he or she is having a hard time.

Here are a few reasons why a baby might require (or be helped by) forceps:

  • Baby is in an unfavorable position for birth
  • Baby is stuck at a bad angle
  • Baby’s heart rate or breathing spikes or plummets unfavorably
  • Mother’s uterus won’t contract properly to naturally push the baby out
  • Mother cannot push, for whatever reason

From these scenarios, you can see that the use of forceps is never ideal. Ideally, the baby comes out on his or her own with mom’s help.

Introducing a tool into the birthing process automatically makes the legal waters muddy: did the provider use them right? Were they even necessary? Did they actually help or did they do more harm than good?

These are all questions to be considered when determining “improper” tool use. Again, a medical expert can help you determine whether your provider’s tool use was proper and necessary.

3. Failure to Warn

Did you know that providers are required to inform you of the risks of a procedure or technique before performing it? You as the patient are entitled to informed consent, which means you agree to your treatment, knowing the possible costs.

Failure on the doctor’s part to do so is called “failure to warn.” Failure to warn is grounds for medical negligence.

Imagine that you aren’t aware of the risks of an epidural. You unknowingly agree to one, with no idea that there have ever been downsides. You happen to be one (of the minority) who experiences painful side effects, including nerve damage.

In this case, you could sue for medical negligence on the grounds that your doctor failed to warn you. There was no informed consent. The same thing applies to your baby with Erb’s palsy!

If you don’t feel like you were informed or warned properly before your doctor used certain techniques or treatments, talk about it with a lawyer! They have the knowledge, experience, and connections you need to solidify your case.

4. Second Professional Medical Opinion

In any medical malpractice case, you’re going to turn to second opinions from medical professionals. Your attorney will present them with the facts of your case. They will review everything and decide if your provider truly acted out of negligence.

This is crucial to your Erb’ palsy case because you can’t necessarily “blame” your doctor just because something went wrong. That certainly won’t hold up in court.

You must prove, through professional medical expertise, that your doctor was negligent and that that negligence caused your baby’s condition. There must be a cause-and-effect relationship for your case to be valid.

5. No Preexisting Issues

Last but not least, you must prove that your baby did not have preexisting issues that could have led to their Erb’s palsy. If the defense can reasonably prove that your baby did, in fact, have some condition that contributed to the injury then your doctor can’t necessarily be blamed.

These issues include weak or problematic bones and nerves, some kind of genetic predisposition toward injury, the mother’s pelvis structure somehow contributing to the problems during birth, etc.

Be creative and think outside the box when considering this aspect of your case. Really play devil’s advocate. Malpractice defense will surely come up with all sorts of possible preexisting issues, so be sure to cover all your bases.

Medical Negligence May Exist In Your Erb’s Palsy Case

Medical negligence can look many different ways. It can be an improper technique, like excessive force, or improper tool use, like using forceps incorrectly or unnecessarily. It can be failure to warn the patient about risk and all the possibilities of treatment.

Most of all, it’s when no negative or harmful condition existed before but does now due to the provider’s actions. Malpractice attorneys and courts use medical experts to determine these things.

If you’re suspicious that your provider caused your child’s Erb’s palsy due to negligence, you may have grounds to sue. Contact us today with questions, inquiries, or help. Don’t hesitate to get the justice you and your baby deserve!