Babies come into the world with almost unlimited opportunities for their futures. But when mistakes are made during delivery and the baby is harmed, the child may suffer life-long permanent damage.
The brachial plexus is a system of nerves in the human body that sends signals from an individual’s brain to his or her shoulder, arm, and hand. When the chain of nerves is broken, the result can be as devastating as a dead or unusable limb.
Brachial plexus injuries can occur as a result of traumatic injury, or medical malpractice mistakes made during the labor and delivery process of childbirth. Obstetric errors may arise when, after delivery of the baby’s head, the infant’s shoulder requires significant mechanical manipulation to breach the barrier of the mother’s pelvis.
In this type of situation, if the baby is not delivered quickly, the infant is at risk for death because the umbilical cord is compressed within the birth canal. However, if instead, in a rush to deliver the infant, a doctor or nurse is forceful in the mechanical delivery, the baby’s brachial plexus nerve may be torn along with the shoulder, and the child may permanently lose use of the arm or hand.
This month, a jury in Cedar Falls, Iowa awarded $1.314 million to a couple whose infant was injured during childbirth. According to the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, the doctor responsible failed to diagnose the fact that the baby’s shoulder was stuck during birth, and used excessive force to pull her from the mother’s pelvis.
Rather than using force, the doctor had the option of using other techniques to free the baby’s shoulder, or undertake a C-section. Instead, the girl has permanent injuries to her brachial plexus nerve, and life-long limited use of her left arm.
Though at first glance, the verdict seems like a large number, it is hardly a windfall; it includes $550,000 for loss of the child’s future earnings as an adult, $380,000 for loss of full mind and body abilities, and $258,000 for pain and suffering that the girl will endure for the rest of her life.
Treatment for brachial plexus injuries often includes physical therapy, and sometimes surgery to correct the damage and compensate for nerve defects. Although some brachial plexus injuries may heal on their own, those that do not have very limited chance of recovery.
Our Chicago birth injury attorneys have handled hundreds of birth injury cases that arise as a result of medical malpractice in Illinois, and understand the emotional agony and stress that families suffer as a result of these long-lasting injuries. Our experienced attorneys won a $6.71 million verdict against a hospital because an inexperienced resident performed a vaginal delivery that resulted in a crippling brachial plexus arm injury. If you or a loved one have had a similar experience, an attorney may be able to help you determine your rights.