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Brachial Plexus Injuries and Your Baby

New BornLabor is both one of the most common and one of the most technical procedures any doctor can perform. So many things can go wrong so quickly. One of the more common injuries that can befall a newborn is called a brachial plexus injury (BPI), and they can range from a mild inconvenience to a severe disability. It is important to know all the facts before deciding on a course of action, if it occurs in your family.

An Overview of BPIs

The brachial plexus is an intricate network of nerves primarily in the shoulders, neck and upper back. It controls much of the motion in the arms and shoulders - the radial and ulnar nerves, for example, have their beginnings in the brachial plexus.

Most of the time, any injury to these nerves is trauma-related, especially in adults. BPIs are often seen in the aftermath of car accidents, for example. However, when seen in newborns, the incidence of medical malpractice raises considerably as causation for these injuries. They are still markedly rare - only occurring in approximately one to two percent of live births - but when they happen, they can affect a child’s quality of life.

These injuries most often occur when a child is being born in the standard manner and their shoulder becomes stuck or lodged at an awkward angle. If the baby remains stuck for too long, the nerves will stretch and possibly tear. The more severe the injury to the nerve, the more effect it will have on the movement of the associated limb.

Medical Malpractice & BPIs

Doctors, as a matter of law, have a duty of care toward their patients. That means that they must conform to the prevailing standard of care that a physician of similar age, experience and ability would use. If they do not, they may be subject to allegations of malpractice, which fall under the aegis of negligence law.

In the context of brachial plexus injuries, there are many actions a medical professional can take - or not take - to leave themselves open to a potential suit. The most common instance in which this can occur is when a doctor delays too long in opting for birth via cesarean section; the longer the baby is improperly positioned for vaginal delivery, the worse the BPI has a tendency to be. Other actions that may constitute malpractice include:

  • Excessive force in trying to extract a baby from the birth canal, either with forceps or a vacuum extractor, or with no tools;
  • Failure to notice symptoms of shoulder dystocia, which can cause BPIs and other forms of damage;
  • Failure to adequately prepare for the possibility of mishap during labor; and
  • Other causes of action in which a doctor’s conduct is not in line with the prevailing standard of care.

A medical malpractice claim has the best chance of success when you are able to prove that the medical professional in question breached their duty of care, and that their actions caused you or your baby tangible (non-temporary, but not necessarily physical) harm. The mere existence of a BPI is not proof of medical negligence, but it is a starting point from which you may be able to build a case.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney

An injury to your child can be arguably worse than one to you. If your baby has sustained a BPI and you believe that malpractice may have been the cause, you will need experienced, competent legal representation. The San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. have made a name on fighting for our clients to receive what they are rightfully owed. Contact us for a free consultation today; we serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Santa Clara, San Mateo, Monterey, Alameda and San Benito.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.