On October 28, 2016, a Connecticut birth injury jury returned its verdict in the amount of $4.2 million in favor of a child who suffered Erb’s palsy as a result of medical negligence during his delivery in 2009. The Connecticut medical malpractice lawsuit that was filed in 2011 alleged that birth trauma caused by a certified midwife overseeing labor and delivery led to the now 7-year-old’s permanent nerve injury resulting in a shortened, disfigured, and weakened right arm.
The parents’ birth injury lawsuit alleged that the defendant midwife failed to timely and properly diagnose the baby’s shoulder dystocia during delivery and then employed the improper technique in delivering the baby, which the defendant midwife denied.
The Connecticut medical malpractice jury trial lasted six days and was tried before a jury made up of six men and six women. The jury deliberated for more than seven hours over the course of a day and a half before reaching its unanimous verdict in favor of the child.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Erb’s palsy (Erb-Duchenne palsy) refers to paralysis of the upper brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand, and brachial plexus injuries are caused by damage to those nerves.
The Four Types Of Brachial Plexus Injuries
There are four types of brachial plexus injuries: avulsion, the most severe type, in which the nerve is torn from the spine; rupture, in which the nerve is torn but not at the spinal attachment; neuroma, in which the nerve has torn and healed but scar tissue puts pressure on the injured nerve and prevents it from conducting signals to the muscles; and neuropraxia or stretch, in which the nerve has been damaged but not torn. Neuropraxia is the most common type of brachial plexus injury. Symptoms of brachial plexus injury may include a limp or paralyzed arm; lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist; and lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand.
The site and type of brachial plexus injury determines the prognosis. For avulsion and rupture injuries, there is no potential for recovery unless surgical reconnection is made in a timely manner. The potential for recovery varies for neuroma and neuropraxia injuries. Most individuals with neuropraxia injuries recover spontaneously with a 90-100 percent return of function.
Some brachial plexus injuries may heal without treatment. Many children who are injured during birth improve or recover by 3 to 4 months of age. Treatment for brachial plexus injuries includes physical therapy and, in some cases, surgery.
If your baby suffered a birth injury during labor and delivery in Connecticut or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a birth injury lawyer in Connecticut or in your state who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you and your child in a birth injury case, if appropriate.
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