Erb’s palsy- Can it be prevented? Sadly Yes…

This post was written by Andrea Girones:

September 2017- Nothing prepares a parent for the shock that their new born baby has a severe nerve injury. Many parents are overwhelmed by concern for their child and only later do they think back to “how did this happen and could it have been prevented?”

With most birth brachial plexus injuries (BBPI), also known as “Erb’s palsy”,  the full extent of the damage is not immediately known. Parents are typically told that the vast of majority of these injuries are temporary and that they should expect their baby to be fine.

In some cases however,  the injury is permanent and will lead to a total, or partially paralyzed arm, for your child’s lifetime. By the age of 9 months,  if the baby is not better, chances are that you will be facing  the devastating diagnosis of a permanent brachial plexus injury.

Many of our clients ask us, why didn’t my doctor warn me about the risks of a vaginal birth, vacuum or forceps delivery?  Why did I not go straight to a c-section? Everyone knew the baby was big, why was I allowed to deliver naturally? Could this injury have been prevented?

The answer sadly is yes, in most there is usually sufficient information in the mother’s chart to alert the medical team that a big baby is on the way. A big baby has a greater risk of developing shoulder dystocia, the complication most often linked as a cause of BPPI. Shoulder dystocia is when a large baby’s shoulders are trapped in the birth canal.

  • If you gained a lot of weight during the pregnancy, had diabetes or high blood pressure, your doctor knew to watch out for a big baby.
  • If you had a slow, painful delivery with little progress, your doctor should have suspected a large baby.
  • If the forceps and vacuum are used for a baby not low enough in the birth canal ( high or mid forceps) your doctor should have known there was a large baby on the way.

You should have been given the option of a C-section before they did a forceps or a vacuum delivery and you should have been told of the risk of shoulder dystocia and the chance of a brachial plexus injury.

Remember that  in most Canadian provinces your child has until age 20 to sue their delivery medical team. Don’t wait until it is too late, call our office for a free no-obligation consultation at 1-866-701-5811 (toll free)  and ask to speak to Andrea Girones agirones@gironeslaw.com . If we accept your case, there are no fees until and unless we win or settle the file.

Girones Lawyers Ottawa www.gironeslaw.com

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