Klumpke’s palsy occurs when damage is done to the brachial plexus nerve. This is the nerve that runs through the shoulder and neck and when injured, can cause weakness or paralysis in the hand and/or forearm. These injuries often occur during delivery and birth.
Approximately one out of every 2000 births in the United States include a delivery complication that results in Klumpke’s palsy. Most frequently, the injury connected to Klumpke’s palsy is shoulder dystocia which happens when there is excessive pulling on the head or shoulders.
Some incidents of Klumpke’s palsy heal on their own, while others lead to long-term or permanent disability.
Size of Baby and Multiple Births Raise Risk for Klumpke’s Palsy
Klumpke’s palsy is one of many birth injuries that can occur when a doctor or other medical professional is careless or negligent during the birth of a baby.
The risk for Klumpke’s palsy and other birth injuries is increased when there are difficulties during delivery, especially when a baby is above average in size, when there is a twin birth, or when the baby is breech. Deliveries that involve an overweight mother or mother with diabetes also increases the risk.
There is also evidence that induced labor and the use of forceps raises the risk of birth injuries and traumas.
There are several different types of Klumpke’s palsy, including:
Symptoms of Klumpke’s palsy include:
- Claw-like appearance of the hand
- Holding hand and wrist close to the body
- Weakness in the arm or hand
- Limpness in the affected hand
- Stiff joints
- Lack of feeling or numbness in the hand or arm
- Weak grip
Some baby’s with Klumpke’s palsy also experience Horner’s syndrome, which occurs when there is concurrent damage to the pupil or eye.
Up to 90 percent of Klumpke’s palsy cases resolve themselves within one year. However, some individuals with Klumpke’s palsy are affected for years or for the rest of their lives. Treatment can be expensive and time-consuming, and secondary developmental problems can develop as a result of Klumpke’s palsy. Children might also experience self-esteem and other emotional issues related to their disability.
Those who are affected by Klumpke’s palsy might have the option of taking legal action against the doctors and medical professionals involved in the events that led to the disability.
When is a Birth Injury Lawsuit Filed?
Birth injuries occur because of treatment used during pregnancy or due to things that are done during labor and delivery. Birth injuries are almost always avoidable and as such, usually occur because of someone’s carelessness or negligence.
Birth injuries can occur when:
- Medical professionals fail to notice an infection
- Decisions, including whether or not to proceed with a C-section delivery, are delayed
- Medical equipment, such as vacuum extractors or forceps, are misused during the birthing procedure
- Fetal monitors are misread
- Fetal heart rate monitor fail
- Harmful drugs are administered during pregnancy
Birth injuries can be immediately obvious or might take years to be diagnosed. There might also be red tape involved, as insurance companies and medical staff work to protect themselves from legal action.
Minnesota Woman Receives Multi-Million Settlement after Baby Suffers Shoulder Dystocia
Families facing birth injuries often deal with lifelong issues. Treatment can be expensive and it might be impossible for a child to completely recover from an injury.
In one recent case, a Minnesota woman was awarded nearly $9 million after her midwife failed to identify and plan for risks associated with the birth of her larger baby. The woman’s son was born with “severe and lasting injuries,” that included a broken right arm and severe nerve damage caused by shoulder dystocia.
According to the claim, the midwife grabbed the baby’s head using “excessive force” and pulled so hard the pressure broke his arm. The nerves controlling his arm were torn.
This is one of the thousands of cases in which a baby is seriously injured because of the negligence of a doctor or healthcare worker.