The mother of a three year old girl was recently awarded one million dollars by an Illinois court as compensation for injuries suffered by her daughter during delivery. According to a report by The Edwardsville Intelligencer, the jury found that the delivering obstetrician was medically negligent in his handling of the birth, resulting in severe injuries and disfigurement of the child.
The case reportedly dates back to March of 2011, when the mother’s labor was induced at a Madison County Hospital. The infant was a larger baby, reportedly weighing about nine pounds and multiple attempts at a vaginal delivery were unsuccessful. According to the report, the baby’s right arm emerged first, but her left shoulder was allegedly stuck on her mother’s pelvis. Court records state that instead of initiating a cesarean section, the physician continued with the vaginal birth. Afterwards, medical records noted that the baby’s left arm was “floppy” and a diagnosis of Erb’s Palsy was made. When discharged six days later, medical records noted that the left arm was still “flaccid with no real movement.”
What is Erb’s Palsy
Erb’s Palsy is also referred to as brachial plexus injury or shoulder paralysis. It is a condition that results from nerve damage that occurs during birth. It is reportedly avoidable if the physician promptly recognizes the problem and takes steps to prevent injury. If this is not done, the child is left with a condition that severely limits the use of her arm for life. According the lawsuit, the doctor applied “excessive downward traction” on the child’s head during delivery, resulting in damage to the nerves. Lawyers for the defense countered with the assertion that the injury was caused by pushing done by the mother during delivery. The lawsuit originally named the hospital as an additional defendant, but the judge dismissed the allegations against the medical center without prejudice.
Breaking Down the Award
After a reported five hours of deliberation, the jurors returned the following damage awards:
• $116,500 as compensation to the disfigurement of the child’s arm;
• $116,500 to compensate for the child’s current disability, as well as the disability that she will experience in the future due to the injury;
• $116,500 for pain and suffering, both in the past and in the future;
• $134,000 as compensation for the past medical and treatment expenses;
• $516,500 in response to reasonable treatment and medical expenses that will become necessary for the child in the future
According to the American Academy for Orthopedic Surgeons, Erb’s Palsy occurs once or twice in every 1000 births. While many infants regain movement in the affected arm, recovery can take up to two years. In addition, treatment may involve surgery or extensive physical therapy. Even when motion is achieved, many of these children continue to experience some level of weakness in their shoulder or arm.
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