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Illinois medical malpractice: brachial plexus birth injury


Brachial plexus birth palsy is a potentially serious birth injury.

Sometimes during birth, babies are born with shoulder nerve injury that can cause problems with their arms like paralysis, restricted muscle use, pain and abnormal feeling. When a child is born with brachial plexus injury, its parents may naturally wonder whether the attending medical professionals followed the proper medical standard of care.

Brachial plexus birth palsy or BPBP

The brachial plexus is the network of nerves connecting the neck and shoulder, and these nerves provide function and sensation to the arm. During a baby’s delivery, his or her shoulder can become stuck on the mother’s pubic bone – a condition called shoulder dystocia – and during the effort to dislodge the shoulder and complete the birth, the nerves of the brachial plexus can be damaged from stretching or pressure, causing birth injury to the child’s arm.

Brachial plexus injuries can happen other ways during a difficult birth, such as in a breech birth when the child’s arms are extended over its head.

Sometimes the injury can be minor and healing progresses swiftly. Unfortunately, in a severe brachial plexus injury, the nerves are severed from the spinal cord, which causes more serious symptoms and more difficult surgical repair. Sometimes the injury can cause permanent disability.

Elements of Illinois medical malpractice

To prove that a doctor committed medical malpractice under Illinois law, the injured patient must show what the proper professional standard of care was under the circumstances; that the physician did not comply with the standard; and that the departure from the correct standard caused the injury in question.

In a brachial plexus case, legal questions arise surrounding whether the doctor followed the proper medical standard of care during the pregnancy and delivery, and if not, whether his or her departure from that standard negligently caused the infant’s injury.

Expert medical opinion about the physician’s care would be important evidence in such a case. For example, were there signs during pregnancy like diabetes, obesity or a history of brachial plexus that should have alerted the treating doctor to consider discussing whether a cesarean section was in order with the mother? Were accepted practices of physical manipulation of the infant and mother to dislodge the shoulder carried out during delivery after the shoulder became stuck?

Medical malpractice attorney a great help

Having professional representation when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is important because the procedural requirements are complex and precise in Illinois, and lack of compliance could result in dismissal of the case. For example, an affidavit and independent health professional’s report about the merits of the case must be attached to the complaint.

In addition, a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer, especially with birth injury experience, will be familiar with the medical issues as they pertain to the legal standards involved.

Keywords: Illinois, medical malpractice, brachial plexus, nerve, shoulder, paralysis, baby, birth injury, palsy, BPBP, arm, shoulder dystocia, standard of care, expert