I want to make a claim for an Erb’s Palsy birth injury to my baby which I was now found out could have been caused as a result of the management of shoulder dystocia. What do I need to do in order to claim compensation?
It is essential that you consult a medical negligence solicitor to discuss making a claim for an Erb’s Palsy birth injury. Claims for compensation for Erb’s Palsy are usually complex and when legal advice is sought promptly it can increase the probability of compensation for the injury being awarded.
Before compensation can be claimed it will be necessary for an investigation to be conducted by the HSE – and your solicitor – to establish the cause of your baby’s injury. It is therefore also important that you write to the HSE to request an investigation as soon as possible.
Erb’s Palsy – often referred to as an obstetric brachial plexus injury (OBPi) – is an injury to the brachial plexus cluster of nerves in the shoulder at the base of the neck. The brachial plexus nerves can be damaged when a baby’s neck is stretched during childbirth, such as when manipulation is required to facilitate childbirth due to shoulder dystocia.
Erb’s Palsy compensation claims can be made due to the mismanagement of shoulder dystocia when excessive traction is used by a midwife or obstetrician, or when the standard recommended manoeuvres – often referred to as the HELPERR protocol – are not used or employed correctly. It is a common assumption that Erb’s Palsy is always caused by negligence of the delivery room staff, but this is not necessarily the case.
When the HELPERR protocol is employed, it is usually possible for a baby to be delivered safely without injury; although if the risk of brain damage to the baby is deemed to be severe, a decision may be made that increases the risk of an obstetric brachial plexus injury being sustained. Damage to the brachial plexus nerves would be deemed preferable to brain damage caused by oxygen starvation, and a claim for an Erb’s Palsy birth injury is unlikely to be possible if this was the case.
Because an obstetric brachial plexus injury is not always caused by medical negligence, Erb’s Palsy compensation claims can be complicated. It must be established that the actions of the midwife or obstetrician amounted to negligence and a chosen course of action was taken due to incompetence, or that a serious error of judgement was made. Proving that excessive traction was used during the delivery process can also be highly complex, and the assistance of a medical negligence solicitor will be invaluable in building a solid case for compensation.
Claims for compensation for Erb’s Palsy can often take many years to resolve, as the amount of damages that can be recovered will depend on the prognosis for recovery and this can be difficult to assess. It may be necessary to wait until the full extent of the injury is known before an appropriate level of Erb’s Palsy birth injury compensation can be calculated.
The most important step to take is to start the claims process promptly and to ensure the cause of the injury is fully investigated, so it is vital that you speak to a solicitor as soon as possible. This will ensure that evidence of negligence can be collected and a strong claim for Erb’s Palsy birth injury compensation can be prepared.