Baby Has a Brachial Plexus Injury

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What to Do If Your Baby Has a Brachial Plexus Injury in Oregon


Brachial plexus injury is one of the most common, if not the most common, birth injuries. But while it is very common, that does not mean that is is acceptable.  It can also cause lasting deficits for the newborn. When a baby has a brachial plexus injury, it can cause a loss of movement, loss of sensation, and physical deformity. While not all brachial plexus injuries are avoidable, many could be avoided with careful delivery. Often times, brachial plexus injuries are due to improper physical manipulation of the baby during delivery. 


Our Our Oregon brachial plexus injury lawyers know just how serious this injury is and how avoidable this injury can be. We have handled over very serous types of brachial plexus cases and we know that victims and their families may be entitled to significant compensation for their injuries. This is particularly true if a victim sustains serious personal injuries that are permanent, disabling, and cause other affects such as muscle atrophy or damage.  These are serious types of injuries and, while some may be minor and result in mild or temporary injury, other brachial plexus injuries could result in catastrophic harm that is irreparable.


Brachial Plexus Injuries Explained


The brachial plexus is a series of nerves that branch off of the spinal cord on the vertebral column and become a very complex network of nerves. The nerves run between the neck and shoulders and control the muscles in the chest, arms, shoulders and hands. It is vital that the nerves are intact in order to have proper functioning. Without proper functioning, the injury will affect the development of the babies’ fingers, arms and hands. Babies are more fragile, and therefore explains why brachial plexus injuries are so common in infants. Typically, these injuries occur at birth from significant external force, or use of instruments such as forceps which can cause significant brachial plexus injury. 


There are many types of brachial plexus injuries. The types of brachial plexus injuries include the following:


Klumpke’s Palsy – In this case, there is arm weakness as a result of damage to the brachial plexus nerves. Typically, only the lower half of the arm is affected. The weakness may be temporary, but could be permanent. If the damage is severe, the individual may not be able to move his or her arm due to the severe weakness. 


Erb’s Palsy – Erb’s Palsy is also a result of damage to the brachial plexus nerves. As a result of the nerve damage, typically the upper half of the extremity is affected. The weakness due to this injury may be temporary, but could be permanent. If severe, permanent injury occurs, the baby may never be able to move a portion of their arm due to severe weakness. 


Shoulder Dystocia – Shoulder dystocia is different than Klumpke’s Palsy and Erb’s Palsy in that shoulder dystocia is the cause of injury, sometimes causing a type of palsy. However, shoulder dystocia can also cause other injuries such as broken bones. Shoulder dystocia occurs due to the shoulders being stuck inside the mother’s pelvis. This can be due to either the shoulders not fitting during an otherwise uncomplicated delivery, or can be due to the babies feet coming first but the arms and shoulders are stuck in place. Both scenarios can cause significant nerve damage. 


Causes of Oregon Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries Due to Medical Malpractice


If your baby has a brachial plexus injury, it is likely due to medical malpractice or negligence in some form.  That is just the simple truth under Oregon law.  It is also unfortunate because most brachial plexus injuries are completely avoidable too.


There are a multitude of causes of brachial plexus injuries, some due to medical malpractice while others are due to unavoidable causes. In regard to medical malpractice, often times, the medical malpractice is due to improper assessment of the mother’s condition prior to delivery. Failure to assess if the baby will actually fit through the birth canal can be a cause of medical malpractice. If the mother was properly evaluated, the physician could have advised that a c-section should be performed instead of a vaginal delivery. The position of the fetus, size of the mother and pelvic structure ore all things that should be assessed prior to delivery. 


Other causes of brachial plexus injury include: 


  • Excessive force on the baby, including pulling, grabbing and yanking of the baby’s head, neck or arm during delivery
  • Dropping a baby on their shoulder, neck, or head
  • Delay in scheduling or performing a c-section when indicated
  • Improper use of tools during delivery that could cause brachial plexus injuries (i.e. forceps, scalpel, injections, etc.)
  • Pulling on a baby during contractions


These are just a few of the many ways that brachial plexus injuries can occur. 


Who Could be Liable for a Brachial Plexus Injury in Oregon?


There are many individuals or entities who could be liable for a brachial plexus injury in Oregon.  The first and most commonly liable individual is the OB-GYN, physician, or other doctor who may have caused or contributed to the brachial plexus injuries.  The doctor could also be a primary care physician or emergency room doctor.  But generally the OB-GYN will be most likely as that doctor has been caring for the mother and the baby for the duration of the pregnancy.  


Of course, a primary care doctor/family doctor or emergency room doctor who has to deliver the baby in an instant and is pulling, yanking, or putting excessive force on a baby’s arm and neck could also be the cause.  


Quite frankly, it could also be all the individuals for collectively failing.  The example would be an OB-GYN that failed to properly evaluate and screen the mother and baby to avoid a dangerous birth such as the pelvis being too small and the baby being too big, and then a primary care physician who nonetheless pulls and yanks on the baby to come down relying on the OB-GYN’s advice.


Other individuals who could be liable include a mid-wife, nurse, physician assistant, assistant, or other individual who is helping to perform the delivery of the baby.  


But the most common entity who may be liable is almost always the hospital, office, or practice group.  This is because the actions of a healthcare provider will be imputed on the business through the doctrine of vicarious liability, more specifically respondeat superior.  This is when the actions of the employee create liability for the employer.


How Our Oregon Brachial Plexus Injury Medical Malpractice Lawyers Can Help You


As stated above, brachial plexus injuries can be quite detrimental to the baby and can affect them for the rest of their lives. While some brachial plexus injuries cannot be prevented, others can be entirely prevented with proper assessment pre-delivery, monitoring during delivery, and safe removal of the baby during the delivery process. Failure to do any of these things properly can lead to permanent nerve damage. 


If your baby was a victim of a brachial plexus injury, we encourage you to call our Oregon medical malpractice lawyers today. Our knowledgable lawyers can review your case to see if you are eligible to receive damages. Damages include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, and pain and suffering amongst many other indications for damages. 


If Your Baby Has a Brachial Plexus Injury, You Should Call Our Law Firm


If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover.


Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.


We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.

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