Brachial Plexus Injuries: What You Need To Know

This is Brachial Plexus Awareness week 2017. Brachial Plexus Palsy,  or Erb’s Palsy, is a severe nerve injury which occurs when the doctor yanks or pulls too hard on a baby’s head during birth. The condition is rare, with approximately two instances for every thousand successful births, and is completely preventable with the correct procedures during delivery.

Depending on the extent of the injury, Erb’s Palsy patients may have some use of their arm and hand, or none at all. In cases where only the nerves of the upper brachial plexus are affected, the baby will have a greater chance of being able to use their arm after birth, but if the injury was severe enough to affect all five levels, it is extremely unlikely that the patient will have full use of their arm.

Doctors can prevent Erb’s Palsy through a number of maneuvers to deliver the baby’s shoulder without lasting damage being done. For example, if one shoulder is stuck, the doctor can rotate it out of the way to avoid a permanent nerve injury. Erb’s Palsy occurs when a doctor pulls the baby’s head during delivery or uses brute force to push from above to force the delivery.

Doctors across the country have been working to eliminate Erb’s Palsy by adopting long term training courses to help reduce rates of birth injuries. At Weill Cornell Medical Center, the rates of certain birth injuries fell to just two percent of the national average rate after they instituted increased safety training. Statistics like that show the importance of proper training and show that these conditions truly are preventable.

If you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice, we will listen to you, explain your options, and help you decide what action to take. The consultation is free, whether you call toll free at 1-888-MEDLAW1 (633-5291) or fill out a contact form to submit via E-mail.


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