Delivering your baby girl into the world at your local Columbus hospital did not go as smoothly as you would have hoped. Her shoulder got stuck in the birth canal, your doctor was more forceful than you would have liked while trying to free her, and now she is experiencing nerve damage that may or may not be reversible. She has little to no movement in her affected arm and hand as a result. What can you do?
The simple truth is that babies often get stuck in the birth canal and suffer some level of damage to the brachial plexus — the nerves between the neck and shoulder. Most often, such damage is temporary. However, there are select cases that result in permanent injury.
Shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus injury
When a baby’s shoulder gets stuck in the birth canal — known as shoulder dystocia — the neck may stretch well beyond what it should while trying to get the shoulder out. This can overstretch, tear or otherwise damage the nerves of the brachial plexus. When these nerves are damaged, the child may experience paralysis, absent reflexes or a decreased grip on the injured side — among a number of other issues.
In minor cases, massage and therapy can resolve the injury. In more severe cases, however, surgery may be necessary to fix the damage. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that this will work. Continued physical therapy and the use of assertive devices are then often advised for the remainder of the child’s life.
Injury to the brachial plexus is preventable. If doctors believe the baby to be too big to make it through the birth canal safely, you may opt for surgical delivery. If a vaginal birth is the goal, one can utilize other birthing positions and the careful use of birth assist devices. Preventing this type of injury really calls for medical providers to be attentive during the birthing process and to take swift and appropriate actions if shoulder dystocia occurs.
Compensation for losses
If your child suffered a permanent brachial plexus injury due to the actions of your medical provider, you may seek compensation for your losses. This you can do by filing a medical malpractice claim against all those believed responsible — doctors, nurses and possibly the facility of treatment. If litigation or out-of-court negotiations prove successful, you may achieve fair and full compensation for any current and projected future damages.