Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s Palsy and Medical Malpractice

Infants who are diagnosed with Erb’s palsy often experience difficult deliveries. During labor, if the fetus is positioned awkwardly – in either a cephalic or breech birth – it may need help making its way through the birth canal. This can create stress on the baby (and the mother), and the obstetrician or delivering nurse may need to intervene in order to protect the baby’s health and wellbeing.

Unfortunately, mistakes in this scenario are common. From applying excessive to making improper use of forceps and vacuum extraction tools, delivery errors can put babies at risk for the nerve damage that causes Erb’s palsy. Infants born with Erb’s palsy will often also experience shoulder dystocia – another birth complication that commonly involves medical malpractice.

Treatment and Prognosis for Newborns with Erb’s Palsy

Depending on the extent of the nerve damage in the brachial plexus and the newborn’s overall health and stability, both surgical and non-surgical treatment options are available. In many cases (but not all), surgery can be performed as late as six months after birth and still achieve full restoration of arm mobility. For milder injuries, physical therapy may be sufficient to restore arm strength and flexibility; and, in appropriate circumstances, doctors may recommend that parents try physical therapy before resorting to surgery.

With appropriate treatment, many newborns will fully recover from Erb’s palsy. However, the importance of appropriate treatment cannot be overstated. Further medical mistakes during surgery or physical therapy can reduce newborns’ chances of recovery – and even lead to additional injuries and limitations.

For children who are unable to make a complete recovery, the effects of Erb’s palsy can last a lifetime. The long-term effects of Erb’s palsy can include:

  • Permanent abnormal muscle contraction
  • Total loss of arm function
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks and job functions
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

If your child has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. Our Denver personal injury attorneys have decades of legal experience, and we have helped numerous families recover just compensation for medical malpractice.

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