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What causes Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s Palsy, which is a complete or partial paralysis of an arm and hand, is caused by an injury to the nerves, specifically the brachial plexus, in a baby’s neck during vaginal delivery. It occurs when the baby’s head is delivered but the shoulders are too wide to pass through the birth canal and get stuck. The medical term for this is shoulder dystocia. The force that is then applied to the baby’s head to extract the shoulders can cause the nerve injury.

When to make a claim

There are generally two ways in which a clinical negligence claim for Erb’s Palsy may arise:

  • When the baby was expected to be unusually big, or a mother’s previous pregnancy had been complicated with shoulder dystocia. In these circumstances, mothers should be advised of the increased risks of shoulder dystocia and nerve injury, and the even more serious increased risks of brain injury and stillbirth, and given the option of delivery by caesarean section.
  • When excessive force or traction is applied to the baby’s head during attempts to free the shoulders from the birth canal. A delivery complicated by shoulder dystocia should be performed by a senior obstetrician and the appropriate methods used to deliver the baby safely. If there is evidence that excessive force was used, and that other methods were not deployed, there may be a claim.

What to expect

Pursuing a claim for compensation with our team of specialist birth injury lawyers first involves a free and informal discussion about what happened. We can then review the birth notes and give you our advice on your prospects of winning a claim.

Medical experts would then be involved to give opinions on the case, and if supportive, we will pursue the claim on your behalf. Our aim is always to keep you at the centre of the case, achieve the answers you need, and the maximum possible compensation for your child.

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