What is Erb’s Palsy?

Author:
Sarah Holdsworth
Senior Associate Solicitor, Medical Negligence Claims
Date:
23/03/2021

Erb’s Palsy is an injury that occurs when the nerves in a baby’s upper arm are damaged.

These injuries usually occur following a difficult birth, and are caused by excessive pulling or stretching of the baby’s head or arm after the baby has become stuck during a vaginal birth.

You could have grounds to claim compensation for Erb’s Palsy if it can be proven that the healthcare professionals didn’t follow the correct procedures during the delivery, and that this led to your baby being injured.

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors are specialists and have helped many children get the compensation they deserve after medical errors led to an Erb’s Palsy injury.

Call us for a free claims assessment and we’ll be happy to speak with you about your situation. Ask if we can deal with your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

How Medical Negligence Can Cause Erb’s Palsy

In vaginal deliveries, after delivery of the head, the baby’s anterior shoulder can sometimes get stuck above the mother’s pubic bone. This is known as shoulder dystocia and prevents the baby from moving any further through the birth canal. This is more likely if the baby is larger than average and is a medical emergency.

You may have a medical negligence claim if it can be shown that the healthcare professionals didn’t follow the correct protocols to lead to a safe delivery, such as adopting the correct manoeuvres to release the impacted shoulder.

In some cases, the healthcare professional may excessively pull, twist and stretch the head to try to release the arm, which can damage the nerves in the baby’s upper arm. As the risk of shoulder dystocia increases with large babies, there may also be a possible claim where there has been a failure to correctly monitor foetal size and discuss the option of caesarean section.

It’s important to note that not all Erb’s Palsy injuries are thought to be caused by the actions of healthcare professionals and this largely comes down to which arm is injured during the delivery.

Injuries to the posterior arm are most often considered to be caused by the force of the mother’s contractions pushing the baby down the birth canal against the sacral promontory, causing injury even before the head is delivered. Injuries of this nature, however, tend to be temporary.

In many cases, if appropriate care is given then it’s possible to safely delivery babies without injury to the brachial plexus.

Does the Severity of Erb’s Palsy Injuries Vary?

Yes, it can do. Prognosis depends on which of the five nerves that supply the shoulder, arm and hand are damaged and whether the nerves are torn or only slightly bruised. Consequently, injuries of this nature can be temporary or permanent.

They may result in weakness in the arm and hand, reduced range of movement and reduced strength, so early rehabilitation such as physiotherapy is often needed. In more serious cases, surgery such as a nerve graft or tendon release may be needed.

How Simpson Millar Can Help You

Our expert Medical Negligence Solicitors have successfully claimed compensation for many children after showing that negligent care was given during labour, and that this led to an avoidable injury.

With the help of independent medical professionals such as midwives and obstetricians, we can consider your case and look at if you have a claim to pursue.

If we can take on your case, we’ll work to recover compensation to help provide support in the future, including additional care and assistance that’s needed into adulthood, such as aids and equipment. Compensation can also be recovered for the impact the injury may have on your child’s future employment.

In addition, it may be possible to obtain an interim payment of compensation, which means you can fund treatment such as physiotherapy or surgery without having to wait for the case to settle in full.

Is There a Time Limit on Claiming Compensation?

Although medical negligence claims must typically be made within three years, claims involving children aren’t subject to this time limit.

So if your child has suffered an Erb’s Palsy injury, it’s possible to claim if they were born more than three years ago.

The three-year time limit only begins on their 18th birthday, so they then have until their 21st birthday to bring a claim.

In limited circumstances, the limitation period can run longer but it is always important to discuss the rules around this with a Solicitor.

For free legal advice call our Medical Negligence Solicitors

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