Many babies sustain birth injuries. Among those are orthopedic injuries, which affect the baby's skeletal system. Common orthopedic injuries in newborns include Erb’s Palsy and clavicle fractures.
New parents must place a lot of trust in their medical teams. However, when a baby is born with a serious injury, parents must confront the reality that it may be the fault of their doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional. Determining responsibility is important -- both for the parents' peace of mind and for any civil claim that may result.
Why birth injuries happen
Due to the narrow, vaginal canal in which delivery takes place, a baby can suffer an injury during the birthing process. Orthopedic injuries may occur because of awkward positioning, or because the doctor aids the delivery with tools, such as forceps.
Clavicle and femur fractures
Clavicle fractures are common during childbirth. Also called the collarbone, the clavicle links shoulder to chest. The baby may experience pain over the fracture site. The usual treatment is to strap the arm to the chest for a few weeks until the fracture heals. A femur fracture can occur if the leg becomes twisted during delivery. Although less common than a clavicle fracture, recovery usually takes just a few weeks; bones in infants heal quickly.
Brachial plexus refers to a group of nerves that begin at the neck and travel down the arm. An Erb’s Palsy, or brachial plexus, injury can occur during childbirth if the baby’s head is pulled one way and the arm another, which often results in weakness in that arm. The nerves should show improvement over time, but if they have not healed after six months, the baby may need corrective surgery.
Steps to take
Although birth injuries are not uncommon, no mother wants her baby to suffer pain. Infants have every right to enjoy a life free of physical complications that occurred when they came into this world. If you feel your medical team was negligent in some way and contributed to the orthopedic injury your baby sustained during the birth process, it may be time for you to explore your legal options. Medical malpractice is a serious issue, and those who are at fault must be held accountable.