What Is Shoulder Dystocia?
Shoulder dystocia is a serious injury that can endanger mothers as well as their children. It most often happens during the delivery process when a baby’s shoulders are too large to fit through the birth canal. Physicians must be careful in responding to this issue, or they may inadvertently cause harm to the child. Here is what you need to know about shoulder dystocia:
Risk Factors for Shoulder Dystocia
While larger babies may be more prone to shoulder dystocia, it can happen to babies of any size. If the mother gives birth later than the due date, if an epidural is used, or if birth is induced, it may raise the risk of shoulder dystocia. However, shoulder dystocia can also happen when no risk factors are present.
Common Complications of Shoulder Dystocia
If a medical provider fails to observe sufficient caution or does not follow the proper procedures in responding to shoulder dystocia, they risk injuring the baby during delivery. This can lead to Erb’s palsy, a form of paralysis caused by nerve damage. Babies who sustain this damage may or may not recover, and some will have their arm function permanently impaired. Mothers may also sustain painful tearing of the vagina, uterine rupture, laceration of the rectum and postpartum hemorrhage. Often, these injuries occur when medical providers fail to predict that shoulder dystocia is likely to happen during delivery.
If you have questions about medical care or treatment, or a catastrophic injury, don’t delay in calling Pegalis & Erickson, LLC for a no-fee consultation! We obtain justice for our clients after hospitals, doctors, construction companies, and drivers commit preventable errors that cause harm. Reach us through our website or call (516) 684-2900.
Baby’s Injuries at Birth
The majority of births in the United States happen without notable complications. However, medical mistakes are too often made during labor and delivery and are not fully explained to parents, despite the resulting serious injuries that cause life-long harm. Here is a guide to some of the most serious types and causes of birth injuries:
Cerebral palsy is caused by permanent injury to a baby’s brain by trauma or a lack of oxygen. Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition with the common symptoms of seizures, speech delays, learning and other developmental delays and abnormal muscle tone. If complications during birth go unrecognized, they can cause lack of oxygen to the brain and permanent damage. Preventable birth injuries caused by misuse of vacuum extractors and other birth-assisting tools can increase the chances of traumatic injury to the brain.
Erb’s palsy is the condition of nerve damage in the neck and arm with impaired motion in the arm and hand. The effects of the condition can run from severe to mild depending on how extensive the nerve damage is. The condition can be caused during birth if a doctor or midwife pulls on the baby’s head during delivery.
Cortical blindness also known as CVI is a type of birth injury that affects the ability to process visual information, such as depth perception and light perception. Cortical blindness frequently occurs along with cerebral palsy. CVI can be caused by decreased oxygen to the brain during the birth process. Other causes of CVI include hydrocephalus, developmental birth defects, head injury, and infections like meningitis. If healthcare providers discover, monitor, and remedy the conditions, irreversible damage may be avoided. The vision loss may be partial or total, but unfortunately is usually lifelong.
If you are concerned about a misdiagnosis or possible medical error, contact the law firm of Pegalis & Erickson, LLC in New York. For 46 years, we have advocated for clients of all ages, to help their financial burden, and make future healthcare safer for others. You can speak directly to our attorneys by calling (516) 684-2900. There is no fee.
What Is the First Thing You Should Do if Your Child Is Injured During Childbirth?
Some birth injuries require immediate care, such as oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain. After any sort of birth trauma is diagnosed, the first step to take is to ensure that your child gets the medical treatment he or she needs. Depending on your child’s specific condition, he or she may be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Each hospital’s policies are a little different, but in general, parents can see their baby in the NICU as soon as the newborn has been stabilized and settled in. A nurse or patient navigator will explain what to expect from your child’s stay in the NICU.
Once your baby is stabilized and the situation has calmed down, you should have a longer, in-depth conversation with the healthcare providers, which includes the neonatologist in charge of the NICU, who are treating your child. Take notes and ask plenty of questions. Ask whether your baby should have any additional medical tests or treatments, or should be seen by other specialists such as infectious diseases, pulmonology, cardiology, ophthalmology, and neurology, depending on the situation.
Families affected by birth trauma near Long Island, New York can turn to the medical malpractice lawyers at Pegalis & Erickson, LLC. Call (516) 684-2900 for the answers to your legal questions.
What to Expect if Your Child Is Diagnosed with Erb’s PalsyEvery child deserves a healthy start in life. Unfortunately for some, birth injuries compromise their health before they even go home with their parents for the first time. Medical malpractice can sometimes lead to Erb’s palsy, which develops when the brachial plexus—a cluster of nerves in the shoulder area—becomes injured during delivery. If your child has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, you can consult a birth injury lawyer to discuss the possibility of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Watching Out for Possible Symptoms
The symptoms of Erb’s palsy can vary widely in terms of severity. Some infants may only have minor arm weakness, while others cannot move the affected arm at all. The child might hold the affected arm against the body or the arm may hang limp. Erb’s palsy can also cause loss of sensation, loss of motor function, arm numbness, impaired gripping ability, and partial or full paralysis of the affected arm.
Evaluating the Prognosis
With the help of a physical therapist, infants with mild symptoms of Erb’s palsy may fully recover within three to six months. Most children who receive the appropriate care regain sensory and functional use of the affected arm within a year. However, infants with very severe symptoms may never regain lost function.
Identifying Long-Term Effects
When the brachial plexus injury does not resolve itself, children must live with long-term health complications. For example, the muscular, circulatory, and nervous development in the affected area may be impaired. Some children suffer from permanent loss of function of the arm, while others may have abnormal muscle contractions that become permanent. As children with Erb’s palsy grow older and enter school, they may suffer emotionally, socially, and academically. They may display episodes of frustration and anger because they cannot physically participate in the activities other children enjoy and they may develop self-esteem issues that require counseling.
The birth injury lawyers at Pegalis & Erickson sympathize with parents of children who have been diagnosed with serious health problems such as Erb’s palsy. We would like to extend an offer for a free case review to help you explore your options. Call us at (516) 684-2900 to request an appointment with a medical malpractice attorney in Long Island, New York.
A Look at Common Orthopedic Birth Injuries
The effects of medical malpractice can range from mild to severe. In the case of birth injuries, the result is often devastating. Children with birth injuries often suffer from permanent disabilities, preventing them from leading a normal childhood and enjoying a productive adulthood. Caring for a child with birth injuries can also take its toll on the entire family, causing financial problems and relationship strain. If your child has suffered birth injuries, a medical malpractice lawyer can help you obtain compensation from negligent doctors to help with the costs of medical care and other damages.
Erb’s palsy is also frequently referred to as a brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus is a group of nerves in the neck area. These nerves are responsible for enabling the shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers to move and to have sensation. During a difficult delivery, the infant’s head and neck may be pulled or thrusted, which can lead to damage to these nerves. This causes temporary or permanent paralysis .
Clavicle fractures are among the most common types of birth injuries. They typically arise from birth trauma or a difficult delivery. For example, sometimes the newborn’s shoulder becomes stuck. Although in many cases, clavicle fractures in newborns heal very quickly, they can sometimes lead to complications. Since the brachial plexus is quite close to the collarbone, the child can suffer from damage to this important cluster of nerves. The resultant paralysis may be temporary or permanent.
Femur fractures aren’t quite as common as clavicle fractures. An infant’s thigh bone may break if the leg is twisted improperly during the delivery. This causes pain, particularly when the child is being changed or otherwise moved. Often these fractures heal but sometimes there can be serious complications resulting in permanent injury to the leg.
At Pegalis & Erickson, our medical malpractice team aggressively pursues the rights of families who have been affected by birth injuries. All case reviews are free of charge,. If medical negligence is identified in Long Island, New York, we can then file a medical malpractice lawsuit on your behalf to seek damages for all injuries that were a result of medical errors. If your child has been diagnosed with birth injuries, call us at (516) 684-2900.
Erb’s Palsy: Causes, Treatments, and Your Rights
Erb’s palsy is a form of paralysis centered in the brachial plexus, a nerve stream between the neck and shoulders that powers movement through the arms and hands. Named after German neurologist Wilhelm Erb (1840-1921)—one of the first medical professionals to diagnose the condition—Erb’s palsy affects between one and two baby births per 1,000 due to medical malpractice during delivery.
The Cause of Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s palsy is caused during complicated or poorly handled childbirths. When a newborn’s head emerges from its mother’s birth canal, a brachial plexus stretch can occur if the baby’s head is pulled with excessive force by the doctor. While it may take years for the permanent effects of this stretch injury to become fully apparent, it is nonetheless a grievous form of medical malpractice resulting in the inability to have full use of the arm and hand.
If the effects of a brachial plexus stretch are readily apparent, daily range-of-motion exercises can begin within three weeks of a baby’s birth. With the help of a physical therapist, the joint-stiffening effects of Erb’s palsy can be countered with regular, supervised movements of the elbow, hand, shoulder, and wrist.
If a child’s movements don’t improve after six months of physical therapy, there’s also the option of surgical treatment. Depending on the locality of the injured nerve, it might be possible to transfer a nerve from another muscle in the body. Performed with microsurgery, nerve treatments can help restore partial function in small infants, but aren’t known to work on older children.
If your child has a physical problem that you suspect was caused by medical malpractice in the delivery room, contact Pegalis & Erickson at (516) 684-2900. Serving clients throughout Long Island, we take on medical malpractice cases stemming from cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, birth injuries, cancer misdiagnosis, infectious disease, neurosurgical related injuries, and hospital liability.
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