A child’s birth is a special event. While most births are free of any threatening complications, situations can arise that put both the mother and baby in jeopardy. If mismanaged, a difficult birth can result in severe birth injuries, long-term disabilities for the baby, or even death. One potential adverse complication is a brachial plexus injury.
A brachial plexus injury is an injury to the network of nerves running from the spinal cord to the chest, shoulder, arm, and hand. If your child has suffered a brachial plexus injury and is now facing numbness, weakness, or paralysis, you need to contact a Maryland brachial plexus birth injury attorney today. The experienced lawyers at the Rice, Murtha & Psoras can help determine if you have a medical malpractice claim. Call (410) 694-7291 today to schedule a free consultation.
Disabilities From Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries
Depending on the location of the nerve damage, brachial plexus injuries can affect a portion of the arm or the entire limb. An injured infant often faces medical complications such as weakened limbs, numbness in the extremities, pain, and, if the brachial plexus injury is severe, complete and irreversible paralysis in the arm.
Two common complications of brachial plexus injuries are Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy. Erb’s palsy is a loss of sensation in the arm involving paralysis and atrophy of the deltoid, biceps, and brachialis muscles. Klumpke’s palsy often involves an “intrinsic minus hand deformity,” commonly called a “claw hand,” or paralysis of other hand muscles.
Negligent Conduct and Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries
Many of the causes of brachial plexus birth injuries, such as breech births, can be detected ahead of time. Doctors and medical staff need to monitor a pregnancy’s progress to prevent harm, especially in the days and hours before the birth. For example, in a high-risk situation, a doctor will order an ultrasound to determine the baby’s position in the mother’s womb, devising a plan in case the birth presents any complications.
Failure to assess potential complications leading to a brachial plexus injury might constitute medical malpractice. For example, a doctor could be negligent if they failed to recognize an above-average head size in the baby, a dangerous change in the baby’s position, or any indications of a nuchal cord or fetal distress. Additionally, improperly managing a difficult birth, not ordering a cesarean section, or providing inadequate postnatal care can negligently lead to brachial plexus birth injuries.
Consequences of Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries
The consequences of a brachial plexus birth injury depend on various factors including the specific location of the injury. If the nerve damage is in the upper half of the brachial plexus, the injury is most likely to result in Erb’s palsy. However, the baby may develop a Klumpke’s palsy if the damage is in the lower half of the brachial plexus.
The severity of the damage also affects the seriousness of the complications. If the nerve is merely stretched, then any resulting condition usually heals on its own in about three months. Recovery from a more serious brachial plexus injury can take years, requiring physical therapy and possible surgery. Tearing of the nerves can cause long-lasting or permanent paralysis.
Prompt diagnosis is important in even mild cases. Untreated infants with mild brachial plexus injuries can experience constant pain and loss of feeling in the affected arm. In cases of more severe injuries, a lack of treatment can result in permanent paralysis of the arm, shoulder, or hand.
Suing for Medical Malpractice Involving Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries in Maryland
If your child suffers adverse medical effects or serious harm from a brachial plexus birth injury, you may have a medical malpractice claim. However, every medical mistake is not medical malpractice. In Maryland, to be successful in a medical malpractice claim, you must prove that there was a duty of care, there was a negligent error, that the error directly resulted in harm, and that there are actual damages.
Medical professionals owe their patients a duty of care. This care is the same level of care that a qualified, knowledgeable professional would provide under similar circumstances. This duty exists for all healthcare providers, though the standard of care is different depending on their responsibilities or the specific procedure.
While a simple mistake may not be considered medical malpractice, doctors can be held responsible for any injuries that directly result from a failure to follow the standard of care. As such, failing to diagnose or manage a difficult pregnancy may constitute medical malpractice.
A malpractice claim also requires the injury to be directly caused by the negligent conduct. A brachial plexus birth injury must be directly traced to the doctor or medical staff’s negligent actions or inactions.
Finally, the brachial plexus birth injury must result in actual economic or noneconomic damages. Damages can include additional medical expenses, physical therapy, loss of income, travel expenses to medical appointments, and compensation for pain and suffering.
Call Our Maryland Brachial Plexus Birth Injury Attorney Today
Brachial plexus birth injuries can result in severe long-term medical complications for your child. Years of physical therapy and additional medical attention are expensive. You need experienced, diligent Maryland brachial plexus birth injury attorneys working for you to ensure your rights are protected. Call the Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 today to schedule a free consultation.