Brachial Plexus Injury Lawyer in Omaha
The birth of a child is a day that parents dream about, but it’s also a day filled with anxiety. This final step in pregnancy can hold the potential for danger, and when medical professionals are negligent in any way, it can result in a variety of birth injuries, including brachial plexus palsy.
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If you believe your doctor or medical team could have prevented your child’s birth injury, please call Bottlinger Law L.L.C. at (402) 505-8234. Our Omaha birth injury attorney can examine your records and look for signs of negligence. Scheduling a consultation is free and confidential, and if we can help you recover compensation, we will do so at no upfront cost.
The brachial plexus is a group of nerves located in the neck, under the collarbone. They connect the arms to the spinal cord and provide control of the shoulder, arms, wrists, and hands. Any damage to this nerve bundle can result in loss of sensation or paralysis in the upper arm (Erb’s palsy) or lower arm (Klumpke’s palsy). Depending on the severity of the injury, it may be temporary or permanent.
Commonly known as Erb’s palsy, this birth injury involves bruising, compression, stretching, or tearing of the upper brachial plexus: spinal nerves C5-C6. There will be a loss of sensation in the arm; the deltoid, biceps, and brachialis muscles will atrophy; the arm cannot be raised from the side or flexed at the elbow; and the forearm cannot be rotated. The arm and hand will present in a “waiter’s tip” position.
If the injury is inflicted on a newborn, the arm will have stunted growth, be more susceptible to heat and cold, and have trouble healing. The nervous, circulatory, and muscular systems are all affected by Erb’s palsy, though the severity of the condition will depend on the severity of the original “insult” to the spinal nerves. Bruising of the brachial plexus nerves may heal naturally, but stretching or tearing may not be completely corrected, even by medical means.
Commonly known as Klumpke’s palsy, this birth injury involves damage to the lower brachial plexus: C8 and T1. The forearm, wrist, hand, and fingers tend to be affected, and the hand has a characteristic “claw” position, where the palm is relaxed and the fingers curled in. Some babies will also suffer Horner’s syndrome, a drooping eyelid, facial swelling, and decreased pupil size, on the opposite side of the face.
Nerve injuries can be painful, described as “stingers” or burning pain down the affected limb. Many of the problems associated with Erb’s palsy are true of Klumpke’s palsy as well, from delayed limb growth to poor thermoregulation and greater chances of infection.
Obstetric brachial plexus injuries are usually caused by excessive stretching or traction on the infant’s neck during the labor and delivery process. When a birth is prolonged, the doctor may elect to use birth-assistance tools, such as forceps or a vacuum extractor. These tools can also cause trauma to the head, neck, and shoulder of the infant.
Risk factors for a brachial plexus injury include:
- A breech delivery position
- Large infant weight and size (cephalopelvic disproportion)
- The infant's shoulders becoming lodged in the mother’s pelvic area (shoulder dystocia)
- Excessive contractions while the infant is in the birth canal
- Clavicle fracture
However, most brachial plexus damage comes at the hands of doctors, when they twist or pull on infants’ heads in an attempt to deliver them.
Many brachial plexus injuries could be prevented if doctors and nurses monitored each child carefully throughout pregnancy and delivery. Some errors include:
- Failure to diagnose: This can be as simple as monitoring the infant's weight and size to determine if a C-section is necessary, or allowing natural labor to continue too long without the childbirth progressing.
- Improper use of delivery tools: This can include the improper use of forceps or vacuum extractors when the infant is lodged in the birth canal. In many cases, these tools are used rather than electing to perform a C-section.
- Too much medication: Many doctors and hospitals try to speed up natural labor. Medications such as Pitocin are used to induce contractions, but they can cause contractions to occur too quickly and too powerfully (tachysystole).
- Failure to perform a timely cesarean section: Things like prolonged labor, an overly large infant, a mother’s physical health, or a non-reassuring fetal heart rate can dictate a C-section. When a medical professionals delays performing a C-section, it can result in preventable birth injuries.
If you believe your child suffered a brachial plexus injury due to the negligence of healthcare providers, speak with our legal team at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. by calling (402) 505-8234. With a decade of experience working with concerned parents like yourself, we understand the trauma that you and your child have endured, and the medical expenses and challenges you might face in the future. Call to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can help you protect your child’s rights.
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