Florida Brachial Plexus Birth Injury Malpractice Attorneys
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves in the shoulder that carry muscle and sensory signals to the arms and hands. When the nerves are damaged during the birthing process due to stretching or tearing, the newborn may suffer from poor sensation and be unable to move the muscles in the upper or lower arm or both. The hand may also be damaged, depending on which spinal nerves were injured.
This type of injury occurs in approximately 3 out of 1,000 births. When the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery, a condition known as shoulder dystocia occurs. The shoulder dystocia can result in a brachial plexus birth injury.
It is often discovered that brachial plexus birth injuries are due to health care practitioners’ negligence in failing to diagnose shoulder dystocia and failing to take action to prevent a brachial plexus injury. In these instances of medical negligence, the injury could have been prevented had the doctor or other health care practitioners provided the accepted standard of medical care.
If your child suffered a brachial plexus injury during the birth process due to a health care practitioner’s negligence, the experienced Florida medical malpractice attorneys of Paul Knopf Bigger want to help you achieve justice and receive the full compensation you and your child deserve for your pain, suffering and losses.
What Problems Does a Brachial Plexus Injury Cause?
If shoulder dystocia is diagnosed and handled quickly and appropriately during delivery, a baby may not be injured. If, however, the birth is mismanaged, the baby and mother may both suffer harm.
Problems for the baby: The baby’s problems depend on the extent and severity of the damage to the brachial plexus. It may be inconsequential damage that resolves itself in a few days, or the injury may be more severe and cause long-term, life-long damage. Some examples of problems related to brachial plexus damage include:
- Weakness in the arm
- Loss of muscle control
- Partial or total loss of feeling
- Paralysis of the arm, wrist, and hand
Problems for the mother: The mother also suffers during the birthing process that injures the baby’s brachial plexus. This is because most of these injuries are due to a difficult delivery with the use of forceps or a vacuum extractor. Injuries to the mother may include:
- Tears and lacerations to the vagina
- Excessive postpartum bleeding
- Difficulty in urinating or defecating
- Injury to the bladder or urethra
- Pain in the perineum
- Uterine rupture
- Psychological stress
Some of these injuries may heal fairly quickly. Others may never heal.
What are the Risk Factors for a Brachial Plexus Injury?
There are risk factors that can alert a health care practitioner to the fact that a baby is at risk for a brachial plexus injury. They include:
- It is a breech birth.
- The baby is large.
- The mother is obese.
- The baby is overdue.
- It is a prolonged or difficult labor.
- It is a multiple birth, such as twins or triplets.
- A previous baby suffered a brachial plexus injury due to shoulder dystocia.
- Forceps or a vacuum extractor was used to facilitate the birth.
How Can Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries Be Prevented?
Each case is different, but if any of the risk factors are present, the health care practitioner should explain the problem to the parents and prepare for a difficult delivery. A cesarean section may be preferable to a vaginal delivery.
The doctor may try to reposition the baby, but often, time is of the essence. If gentle maneuvers do not work, the baby’s life may be at risk. When a baby’s shoulder is stuck, the position of the baby is often such that the blood supply is insufficient or cut off completely due to pressure on the umbilical cord. This is an emergency and quick action must be taken to avoid a brachial plexus or more severe birth injury.
How is a Brachial Plexus Injury Treated?
Treatment of a brachial plexus injury depends on the severity of the nerve damage and may include any, or all, of the following:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Surgical nerve graft or nerve transfer
- Surgical muscle transfer
- Surgical tendon transfer
- Osteotomy (bone surgery on the shoulder)
- Open reduction of the shoulder (capsulorraphy)
Some brachial plexus injuries resolve within a few days after birth. In other cases, the nerve damage cannot be completely repaired. This means the paralysis and sensory deprivation will be permanent and the child’s arm will be paralyzed or partially paralyzed for life.
When is a Brachial Plexus Injury Considered Medical Malpractice?
When the doctor or other health care practitioner is negligent and fails to provide the acceptable standard of care during the birthing process and the baby or mother is injured, the practitioner may be held liable for medical malpractice.
Examples of medical negligence related to brachial plexus injuries include the failure to:
- Diagnose and treat risk factors
- Identify a gestationally large baby
- Diagnose shoulder dystocia
- Provide appropriate interventions during labor and delivery
- Perform a timely cesarean section
Initiating a Florida Medical Malpractice Claim for a Brachial Plexus Birth Injury
Not all cases of brachial plexus birth injuries caused by shoulder dystocia are due to medical malpractice. A Florida birth injury malpractice attorney will need discuss all the circumstances of your case with you and determine if you have a viable medical malpractice claim.
For a claim to be viable, you must be able to prove all four elements of medical malpractice:
- Duty — The negligent doctor or other health care practitioner had a duty to provide you and your baby the same standard of care that is accepted by reasonably prudent health care practitioners in the same area of health care.
- Breach — The health care practitioner breached the duty of providing you the acceptable standard of care.
- Cause — The breach in duty to provide you the acceptable standard of care caused harm to your child.
- Damages — Your baby suffered damages because of the harm caused by the health care practitioner’s breach of the duty of care.
What Compensation Can Victims of a Brachial Plexus Injury Receive?
You and your baby may be entitled to recover damages according to the provisions of Florida law. These include compensation for:
- All medical and surgical expenses, including past, present, and future expenses
- All costs for rehabilitation, including physical and occupational therapy
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Lost wages due to time parents must take off work to care for their injured child
- Other damages recoverable under Florida law
Proven, Trusted Florida Birth Injury Malpractice Attorneys
The Florida birth injury medical malpractice attorneys at Paul Knopf Bigger have the experience, skill and resources you need to prevail with a medical malpractice claim. We have won numerous multi-million-dollar settlements and awards for clients who were injured by medical malpractice and have the expertise you can depend on to win your child’s brachial plexus malpractice case.
Attorneys from other states trust us to handle their clients’ complex Florida medical malpractice claims. If your child has suffered a brachial plexus birth injury due to medical negligence, you too can trust us to provide the outstanding personal service, exceptional legal representation and total commitment to achieving justice you deserve.
If you believe your child’s brachial plexus injury was caused by medical negligence, please submit our Free Case Evaluation form online or call us at 855.292.2111. We will discuss your case and legal rights with you and advise you on the best course of legal action.
Boston Children’s Hospital. (2005 – 2021). Brachial Plexus birth injury.
Kids Health from Nemours. (2018, June). Newborn Brachial Plexus injuries