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Erb’s Palsy – Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

A Minnesota jury in medical malpractice case has rendered an award of almost $1 million to the family of a child injured during labor and delivery approximately five years ago. The jury reached its verdict in the medical malpractice lawsuit late last week, finding that the obstetrician was negligent by not recognizing the fetus was so large it should have been delivered by Caesarean Section. As a result, the child, who weighed more than 10 pounds at birth, suffered injuries that unfortunately will affect her for the rest of her life. The jury’s award totaled $975,501, consisting of separate amounts for past medical expenses, bodily and mental harm, future damages and mental harm, and loss of future earning capacity. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.

During the delivery of the child, the nerves in her shoulder were injured because the obstetrician had to pull the baby so hard get her out of the birth canal. The injury is called Erb’s Palsy, and occurs when the nerves of the shoulder are stretched or torn, causing permanent loss of sensation and control of the arm. Unfortunately, the injury will cause lifelong limitations and significantly reduce future earnings. The defense was that the size of the fetus can’t be easily determined and that C-Section brings with it significant complication risks. However, the Plaintiffs were able to point out that a radiology report said that measurements of the fetus were “suggestive of a macrosomic fetus.” Macrosomia is a medical term describing a fetus or newborn of excessive weight. In a situation, the standard of care is to do a C-Section to prevent exactly what happened here.

As a Maryland attorney who handles a large number of malpractice suits, I have successfully handled several of these cases in Baltimore and surrounding areas. Typically, the fetus is large or in an awkward position in the uterus. Instead of performing well-establish maneuvers to safely get the fetus out, or converting the vaginal delivery to a C-Section, the doctor continues to pull the fetus in an effort try to deliver the fetus. This tears the nerves in the shoulder, forever causing a floppy arm.

It is important in these cases to make sure to have experts that can properly explain the child’s losses. These include medical experts to explain the future medical expenses the child will suffer, a vocational expert to explain future lost wages, and an economist to calculate these damages.