Was your infant born with brachial plexus palsy? If so, the injury resulting in this condition may have been directly caused by medical malpractice or negligence. Brachial plexus palsy results when there is damage to the five nerves on both sides of the neck and shoulder area that run from the spinal cord to the arms. When these nerves are damaged, the use of the arms, wrists, or hands is impaired. The most common cause of brachial plexus palsy is childbirth that involves shoulder dystocia (a difficult labor or delivery that results from the shoulder not easily passing through the mother’s pelvis). Other causes include excessive pressure on the infant’s head, the improper use of vacuums or forceps, and breech births.
During a difficult childbirth, shoulder dystocia may occur. Doctors may, in their attempt to deliver the baby, apply excessive pressure to the infant’s head and shoulders. This can result in ripping, tearing, and nerve damage. If the doctor is experienced in delivering babies, they should know the techniques that are best suited for delivering the baby in the safest way possible.
In some cases, the use of a vacuum is required to ensure that an infant is delivered safely. These cases include when there are birth complications, including misalignment, breech birth positioning, when the infant’s vital signs are concerning, extended labor, or problems pushing naturally. It is important that both doctors and hospital staff know when it is necessary to use a vacuum. If a vacuum is used improperly, damage to the infant’s delicate skull can result, causing nerve damage in the neck and shoulders.
The use of forceps may also be necessary when a mother has difficulty delivering the child on their own. When forceps are used they clamp down on the child’s skull and help guide them through the birth canal in cases where the child is misaligned or breeched. However, the skull of an infant is very delicate and special care must be taken to avoid injury to the child. If used improperly, forceps can cause brain and nerve damage. Too much pressure can cause the neck and shoulders to strain, potentially contributing to the development of brachial plexus palsy.
In nearly every case, babies are positioned to be born head first. However, in about three percent of cases, babies are positioned for a breech birth, or delivered feet first. Doctors can determine if the baby is poised for breech birth by the eighth month of gestation. If a breech position is determined, the doctor should take preventative action and prepare a birth plan to ensure the safest possible delivery of the child. Failure to prepare for the delivery of a breeched child could be considered medical malpractice.
Brachial plexus injuries that are permanent can severely impair a child. The ability of the child to perform basic life functions can be affected. If your baby has been injured due to the medical negligence of a doctor during their birth, contact an experienced Kingston, New York medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.
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