Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy claim
For expert legal guidance on making an Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy claim contact our free national helpline. Call 0333 888 0436 or email [email protected]
Our childbirth injury team was recently asked to investigate an Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy claim and we offered to assist the family on a No Win, No Fee basis.
Background to the case
In 2021, following a prolonged labour, the baby was delivered following an episiotomy. The delivery was noted to be ‘difficult’ but she was born spontaneously. She was admitted to the ward for antibiotics due to suspected sepsis and was discharged home two days later with no apparent issues. Unfortunately, on her first full day home, it was noticed that she was holding her hand in a fixed position with her thumb flexed. She was taken to hospital for assessment which identified no cause for the position of her hand. Her mother raised concerns that there had been multiple attempts at cannulation immediately following her birth and questioned whether this may have caused an injury to her daughter’s hand. She was ultimately referred to physiotherapy where she was diagnosed with Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy (OBPP).
Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy (OBPP)
Also known as Obstetric Brachial Plexus Injury (OBPI), Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy, or Erb’s Palsy, is an injury caused to a baby during their delivery. It results from excessive traction on the brachial plexus within the baby’s neck during delivery. It is often seen during a difficult delivery, delivery of a large baby or a breech birth, including those complicated by shoulder dystocia, when the shoulder becomes stuck during delivery, requiring additional force to ensure a swift delivery.
OBPP can result in temporary injury, caused by a stretched nerve, or more significant injuries resulting from a full tear of the nerves. The majority of OBPP case resolve over time with physiotherapy. However in the most serious cases it can cause a severe injury with lifelong effects.
The symptoms of an OBPP injury include:
- Loss of sensation.
- Inability to move the arm.
- The arm is kept down by the side of the body – sometimes with the arm turned in, with a bent wrist and straight fingers (known as the “waiter’s tip position”).
- The baby can also a have a droopy eyelid on the side of the affected arm.
How do I know if I have an Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy claim?
To be able to bring an Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy claim, you must be able to show that the injury was caused as a direct result of treatment received during delivery, and that it could have been avoided with more appropriate medical care.
Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy claims often include allegations that medical staff:
- Failed to correctly assess the baby’s weight during the pregnancy.
- Failed to perform a caesarean section where it is clinically indicated.
- Used excessive force during the delivery, resulting in a birth injury.
If you aren’t sure whether you have a valid claim then you can make a call to our dedicated free legal helpline for guidance.
Time Limits to make a claim
You generally have three years to bring a claim for clinical negligence. This is known as the limitation period and runs from the date you knew there was potential negligence. Where a birth injury is immediately apparent, the time will start to run from the date of birth. However, in some cases, this is a later date as the injury is not always immediately apparent, or symptoms progress over time.
The two exceptions to this rule:
- Children – The limitation period starts to run from the child’s eighteenth birthday and therefore the claim will need to be issued prior to their twenty-first birthday.
- Mental Capacity – if a person lacks capacity to make a claim for themselves, there is no time limit. The position is slightly different where the individual regains capacity and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
How to claim?
To pursue a claim, you simply need to get in touch with our childbirth injury team. We understand that claims of any kind are difficult, and are particularly stressful when they involve children, so we aim to make the process as easy as possible for you. Your case will be handled with compassion and professionalism by our expert lawyers.
When you contact the team, it will be helpful to have the following information to hand:
- A brief history of the pregnancy, labour and delivery.
- Copies of any medical records in your possession (Do not worry if you don’t have these)
- Any hospital investigation report or complaint response (If there is one)
And because we can work on a No Win, No Fee basis, you do not have to worry about the financial implications of seeking justice.
To discuss making your Obstetric Brachial Plexus Palsy claim contact our free helpline on 0333 888 0436 or send brief details to us by email at [email protected].