What is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy is an injury to the brachial plexus or the main nerves running through the shoulder and upper arm. Erb’s palsy causes nerve damage and paralysis of the arm which can be either mild or severe. The condition frequently requires extensive physical therapy or surgery, and in some cases can cause permanent damage to the affected arm. Infants with Erb’s palsy often are unable to move or experience weakness in the affected arm.

Erb’s palsy is often recognizable due to the lack of movement or weakness in the affected arm. Infants who have Erb’s palsy frequently have sensory loss in the arm and hand which can cause difficulty in achieving developmental milestones, such as crawling on their own. In severe cases of Erb’s palsy, the child can experience a shortening of the arm, or require surgery to repair the nerves damaged during the delivery process.

What Causes Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy almost always occurs during birth and is typically preventable. The injury occurs when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck on the mother’s pelvis during delivery. This is called “shoulder dystocia,” and frequently occurs when a baby is on the larger side.

Erb’s palsy is frequently caused by medical negligence. When a baby’s shoulder is stuck, a doctor must try to dislodge the baby safely. If too much force is applied to the baby’s head when attempting to deliver, the nerves in the neck that control the arm can stretch and tear causing Erb’s palsy. Examples of medical negligence that can lead to Erb’s palsy include:

  • Failure of medical professionals to recognize the risk of shoulder dystocia
  • Failure to use proper maneuvers to resolve shoulder dystocia
  • Pulling too hard on the baby’s head to complete delivery
  • Improper use of medical tools such as forceps or vacuum extraction
  • The use of drugs such as Cervadil or Pitocin to speed up labor
  • Failure to consider a cesarean section when a baby is large

Medical malpractice cases that involve birth injuries such as Erb’s palsy require the assistance of experienced attorneys who understand the medicine. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C. we have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars from doctors and health care providers on behalf of our injured clients and have successfully fought to ensure that families of injured infants have the financial ability to care for their injured child over the course of their lifetime. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation.