Our Chicago birth injury attorneys just read about a recent birth injury lawsuit that resulted in an award of $1.3 million dollars for a couple whose baby was injured during birth as a result of the baby’s shoulders getting stuck during the delivery process. The lawsuit alleged that the doctor that delivered the baby negligently failed to notice that the baby’s shoulders were stuck and the doctor then used too much force to get the baby out, which resulted in permanent shoulder injuries to the baby. According to About Lawsuits, at trial evidence was presented which showed that the baby, who is now almost five years old, has limited use of one of her arms as a result of the birth injury. The young girl also has to undergo physical therapy on a regular basis in order to make sure the shoulder injury does not get worse over time. The judgment included damages not only for the medical bills, but also for the young girl’s future lost earnings, the pain and suffering the family has experienced, and the loss of family consortium (which means the loss of the family relationship that would have be expected had it not been for the negligent acts of another person).
This type of injury is a common birth injury and is commonly referred to as a brachial plexus injury, shoulder dystocia or Erb’s palsy. The brachial plexus is a nerve bundle connecting a person’s spinal cord to their shoulder, arm, and hand. During child birth, when a baby’s shoulders are stuck in the wrong position, or against the mother’s pubic bone, the doctor needs to be very careful during delivery and very aware of what is happening with the baby at all times during the delivery so the doctor can adjust the position of the baby so as not to damage the nerves and permanently damage the baby’s shoulder functioning. If proper care is not taken and the doctor tries to pull too forcefully on the baby to get them out, the doctor may case severe damage to the baby’s brachial plexus nerves.
While physical therapy and occupational therapy can help with a brachial plexus injury, the best way to prevent these types of injuries is for a doctor to realize that the baby’s shoulder is stuck and try to adjust the baby’s position before the damage is done. According to the United Brachial Plexus Network, nearly all brachial plexus birth injuries are preventable as long as proper delivery techniques are used. Unfortunately, since doctors do not always take the proper precautions around 2-3 births out of every 1000 result in an injury to a baby’s brachial plexus nerves. Given that this many babies are injured in this manner during child birth and that it is such a preventable injury, it is crucial that all doctors helping out at birth are aware of this problem and are extremely careful during delivery.