The Small Firm for Big Cases

What Is the Difference Between Cerebral Palsy & Erb’s Palsy?

If anything goes wrong during the birth or delivery of a child, it can cause serious injuries to the infant. Neurological conditions, broken bones, paralysis and palsies can all occur due to issues during labor and delivery. Two common types of birth injuries are cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the infant’s developing brain and can be caused by a lack of oxygen during labor and delivery. Erb’s palsy affects the brachial plexus nerves, which impact movement in the shoulder and arm. A lawyer with experience handling Erb’s palsy and cerebral palsy lawsuits in Philadelphia can help your family explore legal options if your child suffered a birth injury.

A Baby in the Hospital

What Is a Birth Injury?

A birth injury describes any type of harm done to the mother or infant before, during or shortly after childbirth. In medical malpractice law, a birth injury involves harm resulting from an error by one or more of the medical providers involved in the labor and delivery process, including obstetrician, gynecologist, neonatologist or other doctor, midwife, nurse, or other health care provider. Medical malpractice is a type of tort (wrongdoing) where a health care provider falls short of the accepted standards of care and causes harm to a patient.

If any mistake is made during a woman’s pregnancy or delivery, it can result in a birth injury. Many different types of birth injuries exist, including brain injuries, fractures, and nerve damage. Cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy are two very different types of conditions, although both are often the result of complications during the delivery of a child.

What Causes Birth Injuries?

Birth injuries are often caused by medical negligence or malpractice. Medical negligence is the careless failure of a health care practitioner to use an acceptable level of care when treating a patient. Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider violates the standards of care and causes patient harm. Examples of the types of malpractice that could cause birth injuries include the misuse of birth-assistive tools, poor communication among the medical team, failure to monitor fetal vital signs and failure to order (or delay in ordering) an emergency C-section.

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of neurological disorders sometimes caused by injury or damage to a baby’s developing brain. If the brain sustains any type of trauma or gets cut off from oxygen during delivery, the brain’s cells can be damaged enough to result in cerebral palsy. CP affects an infant’s cognitive and motor functions. Common symptoms include muscle weakness, missed developmental milestones, muscle spasms or tremors, clumsy movements, or feeling too stiff or floppy. Cerebral palsy is a permanent disorder with no known cure.

What Is Erb’s Palsy?

Erb’s palsy, also known as brachial palsy, affects the bundle of nerves in the shoulder. It is caused by injuries to the brachial plexus during or shortly after delivery. A common cause is an infant’s arm being yanked during a difficult delivery. If the nerves located in the shoulder are compressed or damaged, it can cause paralysis of the arm, hands or fingers in the affected arm. Erb’s palsy often heals with treatment, but permanent nerve damage is a possibility. Speak to a Philadelphia Erb’s palsy lawyer for assistance with your case if your child suffered a preventable birth injury.

Medical Negligence and Birth Injuries

Medical negligence can cause cerebral palsy and Erb’s palsy. Cerebral palsy, for example, can arise from the attending physician or OB-GYN failing to notice signs of fetal distress when inadequate oxygen is reaching the baby. Failing to promptly respond to this emergency can lead to a prolonged loss of oxygen and permanent brain damage. Erb’s palsy can be caused by the failure to order a C-section for a difficult delivery, such as with a larger baby, or placing excessive pressure on the shoulder, neck or head during delivery.

If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy or is exhibiting potential symptoms of one of these conditions, contact an attorney about a potential medical malpractice claim. Your family may be eligible for financial compensation for the short-term and long-term implications of the condition, including medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and permanent disability. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you with a cerebral palsy or Erb’s palsy claim in Philadelphia.