Five Common Prescription Drug Errors

Prescription Drug Error AttorneysAs one of the most common medical malpractice errors in today’s healthcare environment, prescription drug errors are a threat to the safety of patients and their families. The oversight of a physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider when prescribing or administering prescription drugs can have devastating effects on the health and well-being of individuals in both the short- and long-term. While prescription drug errors come in a plethora of forms, the most common errors involving prescribed medications include administration of the wrong medication, administration of the wrong dosage, incorrect labeling of medications, medications that cause harm due to allergies or other interactions, and failure to disclose risks and side effects.

Wrong Medication

Healthcare providers, including physicians, nurses, and pharmacists may be held liable for giving a patient the wrong medication. Incorrect prescriptions can be due to illegible handwriting by a prescribing doctor or an error in filling the medication by a pharmacist. Receiving the wrong medication can result in detrimental harm to the patient, including unnecessary illness and even death.

Wrong Dosage

In addition to prescribing the wrong medication, healthcare providers often provide the wrong dosage of a medication. In some cases, the dosage is written incorrectly by a prescribing doctor, or is misinterpreted by a pharmacist. In other instances, a provider may accidently give a patient far more or far less medication than what was intended, leading to illness or irreversible side effects.

Incorrect Labeling

Mislabeling is also a common prescription error, either due to manufacturer error or oversight by a pharmacist. In either case, incorrect labeling of prescription drugs can lead to the patient receiving the wrong dosage or the wrong medication.

Harmful Medications

According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly half of the population is taking at least one prescription medication every day. If a serious illness or injury occurs that requires medical attention in a hospital or emergency room, a physician or other provider may be unaware or may overlook a patient’s current prescription medications. Some prescriptions do not mix well with others, and some patients may be allergic to certain medications. Failing to review current prescriptions with patients may lead to harmful side effects and fatal allergic reactions.

Failing to Warn

Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists alike can be held liable for failing to warn a patient of the potential side effects that a prescription drug may have. For some medications, certain foods should be avoided, while others may require an individual to forego moderate to intense physical activity for a period of time. Without knowing what the side effects may be, patients can injure themselves further or become even more ill than they were prior to a prescription being filled.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys in St. Louis, MO | Carey, Danis & Lowe

At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we represent a number of medical malpractice victims, including those affected by prescription drug errors. We know the emotional and physical toll medical malpractice can have on patients and their families, and we work with our clients to ensure they receive the amount of compensation they deserve. If you have fallen victim to a prescription drug error or other medical malpractice, contact Carey, Danis & Lowe today.

5 Most Common Medical Malpractice Errors

Medical Malpractice LawyersEach year, millions of individuals undergo inpatient and outpatient treatment in hospitals and medical facilities for a variety of reasons. The Center for Disease Control states that in 2012 alone, nearly 51.4 million medical procedures were completed on patients within the United States. When an injury or serious illness occurs that requires the attention of a medical professional, it is assumed that the trust we place in our physician or healthcare provider will not be taken for granted. In some instances, however, negligence can occur, resulting in  medical malpractice. To fully understand how medical malpractice and healthcare provider negligence may affect you, we have compiled a list of the five most common medical malpractice errors.

Prenatal or Childbirth Errors

One of the most joyous times in life is bringing another human into the world. Unfortunately, errors in the healthcare field happen far too often, resulting in a wide range of injuries to both the mother and the unborn or newborn child. Prenatal medical malpractice errors may include failure by your physician or provider to diagnose conditions affecting the mother, such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or anemia. Failing to identify birth defects, ectopic pregnancies, and other diseases that could potentially harm the fetus are common as well.

Errors in childbirth are also common, including failing to identify or respond to distress of the fetus during birth, not ordering a cesarean section when one is most appropriate, or not accommodating birth complications in a timely manner. Both the child and the mother can have long-lasting injuries due to these negligent actions before, during, and after birth.

Misdiagnosis

All too often diagnoses are delayed or missed altogether, resulting in more severe illness, disease, or even death. A misdiagnosis is common when symptoms are not fully obvious either to the patient or the physician, and often comes with conditions such as stroke, heart attack, meningitis, appendicitis, and diabetes. Patients are only able to receive the correct treatment when the correct diagnosis is given in a timely fashion, and a delayed or incorrect diagnosis could result in medical disaster.

Excessive Testing or Unnecessary Treatment

Although less common than birth defects or misdiagnosis, excessive testing and treatment are a form of medical malpractice error. In some cases, patients did not need a procedure or surgery based on their diagnosis, leading to an undue risk taken on by undergoing surgery. Similarly, excessive testing of patients when a diagnosis is already known or when treatment has already been completed successfully can occur. Both of these scenarios lead to an unnecessary amount of medical bills for patients over the long run.

Medication Errors

Prescription medication errors are also common in the medical field. Whether administered by a nurse, physician, or other healthcare provider, prescription drug errors most often involve an incorrect dosage. For some patients, however, incorrect medications are given due to labeling errors or provider negligence. Allergic reactions and unknown side effects are also considered errors in some cases, each of which can lead to harmful results for the patient.

Failure to Prevent Infection

Medical facilities are assumed to meet a high standard of cleanliness, as are the instruments used to administer medication and perform procedures. However, nearly 1.7 million individuals are diagnosed with a hospital-related infection each year, according to the Center for Disease Control. Because patients in a hospital setting often already have an illness or disease that leaves their immune system less capable of fighting infection, hospitals have a responsibility to maintain a higher standard of sanitation.

Carey, Danis & Lowe | Medical Malpractice Lawyers Who Care

At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we understand how traumatic medical malpractice can be for you and your family. Our firm represents numerous victims of medical malpractice, and we work hard to get the patient and the family the compensation they deserve for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you are concerned that you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you should not hesitate to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. To learn more about your rights as a victim of medical malpractice, contact Carey, Danis & Lowe today.

Informed Consent – Does It Matter?

Medical MalpracticeOver the course of a lifetime, most individuals will have the need to see a doctor, and many will have a moderate to serious procedure or surgery performed that requires anesthesia and respiratory assistance throughout. The Center for Disease Control reports that, on average, 25% of the population will undergo a major surgery in any given year, with one half of patients receiving treatment for

cancer and another quarter receiving treatment after a traumatic injury. Because of the commonality of surgeries within the United States, regulations exist regarding the education of patients on the risks associated with surgery.

The process by which individuals needing surgical treatment are educated about the aspects and specific risks of a procedure or surgery is known as informed consent. Its basis lies in the need for patients to have the ability to make informed, knowledgeable, and voluntary decisions regarding healthcare treatment or the refusal of it. With any major procedure, informed consent is required to be obtained by the patient from the provider prior to the treatment taking place. When informed consent is not acquired by a healthcare provider, it may lay the framework for a medical malpractice case.

Patient Criteria

With informed consent, patients must meet certain criteria in order for consent to actually be informed and the agreement to be valid. These criteria include:

  •   Patients must have the ability to make decisions on their own in a competent manner.
  • Patients must be able to comprehend the risks, alternatives, and benefits of a procedure or surgery at the time of consent.
  • Patients must voluntarily make a decision regarding treatment, whether it is refusal or acceptance.
  •   Patients must have the opportunity to withdraw informed consent at any time.
  • Patients must have the ability to decline treatment, regardless of the urging of a medical professional or team.

When patient’s rights under informed consent regulations are not met, a consent agreement is not considered valid.

Physician or Provider Responsibilities

While patients have certain rights under informed consent regulations, healthcare providers have strict guidelines they must follow in order to comply. These include:

  •   Disclosure of the patient’s diagnosis, if known
  •   The nature and reason behind the treatment or procedure must be discussed
  •   Both risks and benefits of the treatment or procedure must also be discussed
  •   Any available alternatives must be presented, including their risks and benefits
  •   Disclosure of the risks or benefits of refusing treatment

The American Medical Association keeps current a list of physician requirements as it relates to informed consent. Any deviation from this list or gross negligence on the part of a healthcare provider may result in harm to the patient and his or her family.

Why Informed Consent Matters

For centuries, healthcare providers have been required to obtain informed consent prior to

completing a treatment with surgery or other major procedure. In the majority of medical malpractice cases involving informed consent, or lack thereof, physicians and other medical providers either failed to obtain consent altogether or failed to fully discuss a treatment’s risks, benefits, and alternatives to the patient. If a procedure that was not in the best interest of the patient was completed, and the criteria for informed consent not adhered to, the potential for injury and illness is often far higher than when informed consent is properly obtained.

Medical Malpractice Lawyers in St. Louis, MO | Carey, Danis & Lowe

At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we understand the complications that arise with informed consent, and how they can impact you and your family. Our firm represents numerous victims of medical malpractice, and we work diligently to get the patient and the family the compensation they deserve. If you are concerned that your informed consent rights have been violated, you should not hesitate to contact a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney immediately. To learn more about how we can help, contact Carey, Danis & Lowe today.

Common Types of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpracticeEach year, millions of Americans require nurses, doctors and hospitals to treat their  injuries, illnesses, and diseases. According to the Center for Disease Control, 35.1 million individuals needed to visit a hospital for inpatient care during 2010, with an average stay of 4.8 days. Similarly, the CDC reported that 51.4 million procedures were performed in 2011, and 125.7 million individual outpatient visits were necessary. With the high number of hospital and doctor visits throughout any given year, it is not surprising that medical malpractice cases are common.

While we put trust in professional medical staff, including doctors, nurses, and aides, there is no guarantee that one of them may commit malpractice or negligence. There is a human element involved in medical practice, meaning errors are bound to happen. Here we have compiled a list of the common types of medical malpractice individuals face today.

Malpractice in Surgery

A vast number of surgical procedures are performed each year, making the occurrence of malpractice before, during, and after surgery one of the most common types of medical malpractice. Surgical malpractice could include any of the following:

  •   Wrong site for surgery
  •   Wrong patient surgery
  •   Unsanitary surgical tools
  •   Organ or tissue damage
  •   Nerve damage

Each of these surgical errors can cause devastating harm to the patient and financial losses to their family. In some cases, malpractice can lead to lifelong injuries that cannot be treated.

Prescription Drug Malpractice

Malpractice is also common in the administration of prescription drugs. During either an inpatient or outpatient visit, patients can be given the wrong medication, an incorrect dosage, or could have an allergic reaction to the prescribed medication. In addition, malpractice can occur when patients are not warned of the potential side effects of prescription drugs, or when a new medication interacts negatively with a prescription already prescribed for the patient.  Prescription drug malpractice can have serious implications for the patient and may result in effects that are irreversible.

Birth Injuries and Obstetric Malpractice

Another serious area of medical malpractice takes place in obstetrics and birth injuries. During prenatal care, mothers and their unborn children can receive treatment that is in violation of the standard of care when medical conditions are not misdiagnosed. Medical professionals may also be negligent in discovering birth defects prior to childbirth, or injuries occur during delivery of the child.

Doctors and nurses may fail to respond quickly to fetal distress, or order a cesarean section when one is needed. Malpractice before and during childbirth can lead to birth defects that cannot be corrected, and may cause serious harm to the mother.

Diagnosis Malpractice

The largest number of medical malpractice cases are due to complaints regarding misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis. Failing to diagnosis a condition or disease for an extended period of time can lead to missed opportunities for treatment. Most illnesses and diseases can be treated if correctly diagnosed early.  Without a correct diagnosis or one that is timely, patients can suffer great harm if not death.

Carey, Danis & Lowe | Medical Malpractice Lawyers Who Care

At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we understand how medical malpractice can have devastating consequences for you and your family. Our firm has represented numerous victims of medical malpractice, and we work diligently to get the patient and the family the compensation they deserve. If you are concerned that you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you should not hesitate to contact a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney immediately. To learn more about how we can help, contact Carey, Danis & Lowe today.

The Emotional Impact of a Car Accident

Firefighters Saving Woman In CarPhysical injuries suffered in a car accident are typically visible, and therefore easier for people to understand than the internal struggle of emotional trauma. However, a recent British study of 1,000 men and women suggests that at least one-third of nonfatal auto accidents result in emotional complications, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and long-term phobias. Most of the study participants recovered from the psychological effects within three to 12 months, but others developed long-term complications and symptoms lasting for a year or more.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety, and Phobias

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident every 10 seconds in the United States. Even minor accidents can have a profoundly traumatic effect. Following an accident, an individual may feel general anxiety about traveling, or passing the location of the accident. This anxiety can affect your work, relationships, and overall well-being.

The most important step in recovering from emotional trauma is recognizing the problem and seeking help. Alan Steinberg, PhD., UCLA’s Trauma Psychiatry Program director, says if you still feel anxious, depressed, or emotionally vulnerable after three months have passed, you should seek help from a mental health professional. Make sure this person is qualified to treat post-traumatic stress disorder. Treatment options include relaxation and breathing exercises, medications, and anxiety management, among others.

“These kinds of reactions are normal and to be expected in the [short-term] aftermath of whatever has happened, “ says Steinberg, “I don’t think people should run to a psychiatrist or psychologist a week or two after. But if they start to become persistent, that’s a sign that they may become [long-term] and can become very debilitating.” Children are especially vulnerable to phobias and anxiety following an accident. If their parents are voicing fears about the accident, the child may feel as though he or she shouldn’t add to the worry. Children also have a more active imagination and may have a distorted understanding of what can actually happen. For example, a young child may think the car will explode or drive off a cliff just as easily as it got into the fender bender.

Law Offices of Carey, Danis & Lowe

If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be well acquainted with the physical, financial, and emotional scars it can leave behind. The St. Louis law firm of Carey, Danis & Lowe understands what you are going through. We have worked with countless victims of motor vehicle accidents, including motorcycle accidents, car accidents, and those involving large trucks. If you have been injured, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, transportation costs, emotional trauma, lost wages, and more. Contact the team of Carey, Danis & Lowe for a free consultation today.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

motorcycle accident attorneyMotorcycle riding is a passion for millions of Americans. Unfortunately, a motorcyclist’s chances of injury or death still hover around 26 times above drivers of passenger vehicles. Head-on collisions are the most common and fatal type of motorcycle accidents, and they represent 56 percent of motorcycle deaths. Educating yourself on the common causes of accidents is your first line of defense in avoiding this kind of tragedy.

Left-Hand Turns

The most frequent scenario leading to collision is when a car makes a left-hand turn onto a busy road. Approximately 42 percent of crashes involving both motorcycles and cars occur under these circumstances. The motorcycle’s small size makes it easy to “disappear” in blind spots (even more so when visibility is poor due to rain or fog). While the vehicle making the turn is usually at fault, the action and intent of the motorcyclist is also taken into consideration. Many times, motorcycle riders trying to pass in the wrong lane or traveling at high rates of speed will contribute to the collision. Safety lies in defensive, sensible driving, for both motorcyclists and drivers of other motor vehicles.

Lane Splitting

When a motorcycle drives between two lanes of cars, “lane splitting” occurs. This is most common during periods of slow or stopped traffic. However, some motorcyclists occasionally attempt lane splitting in fast moving, highway situations. Because the two vehicles are dangerously and unexpectedly close, the driver of the car is usually taken by surprise. With tight proximity, maneuvering becomes difficult for both parties. Once again, defensive, sensible driving prevents the chances of this kind of collision.

Road Hazards

While dangerous road conditions pose problems for drivers of all vehicle types, motorcycles are particularly susceptible. Due to the smaller size and decreased stability of motorcycles, chances of losing control are significantly higher. Construction, uneven lanes, debris, and weather are all cause for extra caution. Darting animals, especially deer, can cause traumatic wipeouts. Rough or gravel roads make navigation extremely difficult. The combination of curvy roads and slick conditions also increase the risk of an accident. Elements like wet leaves, mud, and oil drippings can appear with very little warning. Be sure to slow down and pay particular attention to your surroundings when you ride.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

Playing it safe does not mean you can’t enjoy riding a motorcycle. The knowledge of common risks and the utilization of safe driving practices significantly decrease your chance of serious injury or death. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Wear a helmet. An average of 37 out of 100 motorcycle fatalities could be avoided if drivers and passengers wore helmets.
  • Take a course in riding. Professional training provides knowledge that statistically saves lives.
  • Wear bright, protective clothing.
  • Make motorcycle maintenance a priority.
  • Know your limits. If you are fairly new at riding, stay safe by avoiding risks.

Carey, Danis & Lowe – St. Louis Motorcycle Attorneys

Being involved in a motorcycle accident can be devastating. If you have experienced the death of a loved one or have suffered a personal injury in a motorcycle or auto accident, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced motorcycle attorney immediately. Serving St. Louis and the surrounding area, the Law Offices of Carey, Danis & Lowe have extensive experience with personal injury and accident cases. Our team will help establish a legal plan based on your unique situation. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

car accidentThere are over 10 million motor vehicle accidents every year in the U.S. alone. It is increasingly common for drivers to be on mental autopilot as they drive the exact same routes to work every day. Add the distractions of cell phone use and other hand-held devices, and accident statistics continue to grow. As this number is likely to increase before it sees a decline, it is important for drivers to educate themselves on the most common causes of car accidents today.

Driver Error

The most common culprit of car accidents in our technological age is distracted driving. Cell phone use and texting while driving remains number one in this category. The National Safety Council reports that 25 percent of all vehicle crashes involve cell phone use. In a potentially dangerous driving situation, a safe outcome is often determined in a matter of seconds. If you are preoccupied with your cell phone, changing radio stations, or other distractions, that vital second may be lost. Other incidents of driver error include:

  • Alcohol consumption – decreases reaction time and decision-making skills.
  • Driver fatigue – slows reaction time to road dangers and emergency situations.
  • Speeding – is a common hazard, particularly among teenage drivers. The Center for Disease Control reports male teens exhibit more aggressive driving habits than their female counterparts.

Non-Driver Causes

Many causes of car accidents remain out of the hands of the driver. Road hazards such as potholes, rain, snow, and ice can create dangerous driving conditions. Lack of visibility due to snow, thick fog, or torrential rains increase the risk of vehicle collision. Mechanical failure due to improperly maintained tires, brakes, steering or engine systems can wreak havoc on busy highways. Drivers should always take these possibilities into consideration when evaluating maintenance plans and driving conditions.

Other Common Types of Accidents

  • The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that rear-ending is responsible for 29 percent of all car accidents. This type of collision is usually due to distracted driving. Staying focused on your surroundings is the best way to avoid causing a rear-end accident.
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that side-impact crashes are responsible for approximately 25 percent of passenger vehicle deaths in the United States. Perhaps the most dangerous kind of collision are side-impact collisions which can be avoided by following basic rules of the road and staying acutely aware of your surroundings. Always look both ways before proceeding, and allow plenty of time to stop at lights.
  • After a rain storm, water accumulates on roadways, increasing the risk of hydroplaning. If you are traveling at too high a speed through standing water, traction and vehicle control can be lost. To avoid hydroplaning, slow down in wet road conditions. Make a habit of checking your tire treads on a regular basis.

Law Offices of Carey, Danis & Lowe – Personal Injury Attorneys

If you have been injured in a car accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney without delay. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other associated damages. The legal team at Carey, Danis & Lowe will fight hard to protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve. If you are ready to take action, contact Carey, Danis & Lowe today.

June is National Safety Month

safetymonth-juneThe National Safety Council (NSC), in partnership with thousands of private and nonprofit organizations throughout the country, is raising awareness about the issue of personal safety throughout June for National Safety Month. The NSC initiative is meant to shed light on the most common causes of personal injury, both in the home and on the job, and is designed to promote a national discussion about what can be done to reduce these causes.

Personal Injury Risks

The potential for personal injury accidents at work, on the road, or in the home is higher than most may venture to guess. National Safety Month is honing in on common personal injury causes including prescription painkiller abuse, transportation safety, slip and fall incidents, ergonomics in the workplace, and emergency preparedness. Each carries its own potential for serious injury when precautions are not taken.

Taking Action to Promote Safety

The NSC has developed materials that can be used to raise awareness for safety and the prevention of personal injury due to an accident. Spreading the word can have a meaningful impact as well. This year, National Safety Month carries a theme of “What I Live For,” with the purpose of sharing personal stories about safety at home and at work. The NSC encourages those who want to get involved with National Safety Month to share their stories on social media with friends, family, and coworkers, host an event to learn more about accident prevention, or include information about the awareness campaign in newsletters, blogs, and emails throughout the month of June.

Personal Injury Accident Attorneys in St. Louis, MO | Carey, Danis & Lowe

At Carey, Danis & Lowe, our personal injury attorneys have ample experience representing those who have been injured and lost loved ones due to an accident. We realize how commonplace accidents are and how detrimental personal injury can be to you and your family. As such, we strive to achieve the best possible outcome for our personal injury clients in terms of care and compensation, reducing the emotional and financial burdens caused by an accident. To learn more about our personal injury practice and to receive a free consultation, give us a call or contact us online today.

The Link Between Truck Accidents and Driver Fatigue

truck accident injury lawyerApproximately 4,000 people are killed in large truck crashes every year, and driver fatigue is one of the leading contributors to these accidents. Truckers are often tired because the companies they work for push them to their limits. The big trucking companies feel obligated to fulfill the demands of our increasingly consumer-driven society. In order to remain profitable, they need to deliver merchandise and supplies on time. Unfortunately, everything comes with a cost. In this case, that cost is the lives of thousands of people every year.

New Rules for Truck Drivers

In light of the increase in annual large truck deaths, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established new rules for truck drivers’ allowed “hours of service.” The updated requirements state that drivers must rest for at least 30 minutes during the first eight hours of their shift. The other updated rule deals with something known as the “restart.” The restart is a 34 hour rest period that can be taken between the maximum allotted weekly hours. Currently, truck drivers cannot work for more than 80 hours each week. The old FMSCA rule stated that after an 80 hour week, drivers could begin another 80 hour week following a 34 hour rest period (restart). The new rule states that the restart can only be used once every seven days, and that the restart period must include at least two rest periods between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Essentially, this updated rule reduces the net weekly hours that a driver can work from 80 to 72.

The Dangers of Chronic Fatigue

The majority of truck drivers utilize safe driving practices and do not work the maximum number of hours allowed. However, there were enough drivers exceeding the maximum hours to cause concern. It is simply not possible to stay alert while driving more than 80 hours a week. Drivers should pay attention to fatigue and stop to rest if they become even slightly tired. In fact, continuously working long hours without stopping for proper rest can lead to chronic fatigue. Chronic fatigue is more difficult to monitor because it can strike even when the driver is well within his or her weekly limits. If the driver is only working 40 hours this week, but just came off several months of 70 or 80 hour weeks, chronic fatigue can be just as dangerous. In addition to falling asleep behind the wheel, chronic fatigue can cause slower reaction times and a reduction in the driver’s ability to assess a situation quickly and effectively.

Carey, Danis & Lowe Can Help

When a truck accident is the result of negligence by the truck driver or trucking company, accident victims have rights. The attorneys at Carey, Danis & Lowe have successfully obtained compensation for clients in all types of motor vehicle accidents, including those involving large trucks. Call us today for a free consultation.

Erb’s Palsy – Causes, Types, and Treatments

medical malpractice lawyersOne of the most common birth injuries occurs when the newborn’s shoulder becomes stuck behind the mother’s cervix during delivery. Erb’s Palsy is a type of shoulder dystocia injury that causes nerve damage to the shoulder area. This injury frequently occurs when an obstetrician uses excessive force to release a shoulder that is caught in the birth canal behind the mother’s pubic bone. In addition to being painful for the mother, this type of delivery carries the potential for serious complications.

When an obstetrician notices that the shoulders are at risk of being caught, he or she must perform a difficult maneuver to avoid putting pressure on the baby’s shoulder. If the doctor or midwife performs this procedure incorrectly, it can result in Erb’s Palsy if the nerve tissue is stretched, torn, or ruptured. The nerves connecting the shoulder to the arm are known as brachial plexus nerves. They start in the spinal cord, stretch across the shoulder, extend along the arms, and continue to the tips of the fingers. An injury to these nerves can cause the victim to suffer from complete or partial paralysis of the arm.

While any birth can result in a brachial plexus injury, certain situations pose greater risks. If any of the following increased risk factors apply to you, your obstetrician or midwife should take the appropriate steps to avoid such an injury.

High-Risk Factors for Erb’s Palsy and All Forms of Shoulder Dystocia

  • Babies expected to be at least eight pounds, 14 ounces at birth
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Maternal obesity
  • Mother’s short stature
  • Flat or contracted pelvis
  • A pregnancy that has gone on for more than 40 weeks

A skilled, experienced doctor will know how to deal with a shoulder dystocia if it presents during delivery. He or she must support the baby’s head while applying gentle traction in order to dislodge the shoulder without causing serious injury. If the doctor uses excessive traction, the nerves may be irreparably damaged, resulting in Erb’s Palsy. The risk of shoulder dystocia is increased with the use of tools such as forceps, a vacuum, or labor-inducing drugs.

Four Different Types of Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s Palsy can present in many different ways. Some children may have no muscle control or feeling in the entire arm and hand while others can control their arm but not their wrist and hand. Still others may have full use of their hands but cannot control their shoulder or arm. The severity of the injury is dependent on the severity of the damage. There are four categories of Erb’s Palsy injuries. These are:

  • Avulsion – the nerve has torn from the spine
  • Rupture – the nerve is torn, but not from the spine
  • Neuroma – scar tissue has grown around the injured nerve, placing pressure on it
  • Neuropraxia – localized nerve damage, which is the most common type of Erb’s Palsy and will often heal within four to six weeks

Carey, Danis & Lowe, Medical Malpractice Lawyers Who Care

If you are concerned that your newborn is suffering from Erb’s Palsy, you should contact a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney immediately. Symptoms of this condition are easy to identify. Typically, the baby’s affected arm will remain immovable by his or her side. If you notice this in your infant, it may be the result of a birth injury. Carey, Danis & Lowe represents victims of medical malpractice, including birth injuries. Having a new baby is supposed to be a joyous time. We understand how emotionally difficult birth injuries can be. To learn more about how we can help, contact Cary, Danis & Lowe today.