Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit: Preventable Birth Injury Caused Catastropic Brain Damage

Staff Writer | May 14th, 2013 | Posted in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit News

Erb's Palsy Lawsuit Tragedy struck an Illinois mother when complications during the birth of her son resulted in brain and nerve damage that will leave the boy permanently disabled. Medical experts say these complications could have—and should have—been foreseen, and that the damage could have been prevented, if only the woman had received an adequate and professional standard of care. Instead, the young mother’s condition was ignored by her doctors until it was too late. Now she is bringing an Erb’s palsy lawsuit against the facilities and doctors whose negligence and malpractice resulted in her son’s condition.

Birth injury risk factors ignored by doctors

In the sixth week of her pregnancy, the plaintiff sought prenatal medical care at the Komed Holman Health Center. Although she was obese, and had a family history of diabetes, the staff at Komed did not perform early testing for gestational diabetes, a dangerous condition which can result in complications during pregnancy and delivery. Even after a glucose test taken in week 23 of the pregnancy revealed abnormally high blood sugar levels sufficient to diagnose diabetes in the patient, physicians at Komed did not follow up for an additional seven weeks. By the time they referred her to a facility qualified to care for high-risk pregnancies, the plaintiff was 30 weeks pregnant and it was too late to manage her gestational diabetes properly.

As a result, the plaintiff’s son developed fetal macrosomia, a condition in which a fetus is abnormally large for its gestational age and which puts the child at greater risk of a birth injury like Erb’s palsy, when a difficult delivery causes temporary or permanent paralysis of one of a newborn’s arms.

When the plaintiff was referred to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital, her prenatal exams there showed diabetes, high blood pressure, excessive fetal weight gain,and fetal macrosomia. Despite these risk factors, when the patient was admitted to the hospital to deliver her baby, the doctors did not perform a fetal ultrasound or consider a cesarean section.

During the delivery, changes in fetal heart rate indicated that the fetus was in distress and that delivery by cesarean was necessary, but doctors proceeded with vaginal delivery anyway. The delivery failed when the baby’s shoulder was obstructed by the mother’s pelvis, in a condition called shoulder dystocia, causing the baby to become stuck in the birth canal for over twelve minutes before doctors finally performed a cesarian section. During this time, the child was deprived of oxygen, resulting in a brain injury known as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE.

Malpractice results in HIE birth injury and Erb’s Palsy

An expert witness and fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology reviewed the case and issued a report indicating that if not for Komed’s failure to diagnose the patient’s gestational diabetes and refer her to an appropriate facility in a timely fashion, fetal macrosomia and the resulting complications would likely have been avoided. Furthermore, Northwestern’s failure to diagnose macrosomia and fetal intolerance of labor and perform a cesarean section in a timely fashion resulted in HIE and Erb’s Palsy.

Brain damage and Erb’s palsy lawsuit filed in Illinois court

The plaintiff filed her lawsuit in Illinois State Circuit Court on October 22, 2012, and the suit was moved to federal court on April 1, 2013. According to the suit, the plaintiff’s son suffered catastrophic brain damage due to his injuries, and will require round the clock medical treatment and other care for the duration of his life. She is requesting damages in excess of $50,000.

If you need to talk to a lawyer about filing an HIE birth injury or Erb’s palsy lawsuit, the law firm of Balkin & Eisbrouch is here to help. Our attorneys have decades of experiencing winning justice for families who have been victimized by medical negligence. Contact us at any time for a free consultation.