The last thing you want to think about when giving birth is the possibility that your child may be injured. Unfortunately, some medical practitioners do not always exercise the caution necessary when delivering a child. This medical negligence could lead to a child suffering a serious brachial plexus injury (BPI). If your child was injured while you were giving birth at a hospital in Maryland, you should consult with an experienced Baltimore birth injury attorney, like those at Bennett & Heyman, P.A.
At Bennett & Heyman, P.A., we are dedicated to providing you and your family with the quality legal representation that you deserve. Our brachial plexus injury attorneys have extensive experience in dealing with BPI claims, and we will put that experience to work for you. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your claim, contact Bennett & Heyman, P.A. at 410-429-7856, or contact us online.
What is the Brachial Plexus?
The brachial plexus is a network of nerves in a person’s neck that branches out and forms the nerves that control various functions in a person’s upper extremities. These nerves are responsible for controlling movement and sensation in a person’s entire arm, from the shoulders to the fingers. A brachial plexus injury (BPI), also known as brachial plexus birth palsy, causes a child’s arm to become weak and suffer loss of motion.
Causes of BPI
BPI occurs in approximately one to three of every 1,000 births in the United States. A BPI typically occurs when a mother has a difficult delivery. For example, most children weigh between five and eight pounds. If a mother must deliver a larger child, there is a risk that the child could become stuck in the birth canal which increases the risk of BPI. Other risk factors and causes of BPI include:
- A breech delivery where the child’s feet or buttocks are positioned to exit the womb first
- The child’s shoulders becoming stuck between the bones of the mother’s pelvic area during delivery (shoulder dystocia)
- An infant having underdeveloped muscles in their neck
- Maternal obesity or diabetes
- During a prolonged labor, the mother’s contractions can place stress on the child’s shoulders and upper body
BPI can also occur if the delivering physician incorrectly uses birth-assisting tools like forceps or a vacuum suction tool. It is possible that BPI could occur when a physician pulls on the child’s shoulders with excessive force, this may cause tearing or stretching of the brachial plexus nerves.
Types of Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries
Brachial plexus birth injuries are typically categorized depending on the area of the brachial plexus that was injured. Generally, there are four types of BPIs. A neurapraxia or stretch injury happens when the nerves in the brachial plexus are excessively stretched but do not tear completely. This type of injury is the most common type of BPI and usually affects the area outside of the spinal cord. An infant may recover from this injury within three months.
A rupture BPI occurs when the brachial plexus nerves are torn, but not in the area where they connect to the spine. This type of injury likely will require surgery to correct.
An avulsion BPI occurs when the nerves are torn from the infant’s spinal cord. This injury is severe because the damaged nerves have to surgically replaced, and the affected nerves cannot be surgically repaired. This injury happens in about 10% to 20% of BPI cases and may also cause the infant’s eyelid to droop on one side of their face.
A neuroma BPI is when the brachial plexus nerves tried to heal, but scar tissue is preventing the nerves from healing and from properly functioning. A neuroma BPI may require nerve reconstruction surgery to correct and possibly a tendon transfer.
How to Prove Your Birth Injury Case
If your healthcare provider was negligent when they were delivering your child, you might be able to file a medical malpractice claim against them. To prevail in a medical malpractice claim, you must prove four elements regarding your healthcare provider’s conduct:
- The healthcare provider owed you, the patient, a duty
- The healthcare provider breached their duty to you
- That breach caused your child and possibly you to be injured
- The harm caused is compensable
Maryland Brachial Plexus Injury Lawyers in Baltimore
If you or your child was injured when you were giving birth, you should contact an experienced brachial plexus birth injury lawyer today. With over 70 years of combined legal experience, the injury attorneys at Bennett & Heyman, P.A. are here for your family in your time of need. We believe that negligent medical practitioners should be held accountable for their actions. To set up a free legal consultation, contact Bennett & Heyman, P.A. at 410-429-7856, or contact us online.