The brachial plexus is a network of nerves between a person’s neck and shoulders that control one’s chest, shoulders, arms, and hands. A brachial plexus injury occurs if the nerves are stretched, compressed, or torn. A brachial plexus injury can occur during a birth, and a brachial plexus birth injury occurs in about one to three of every one thousand births. An injury can cause a loss of muscle function and even paralysis of the upper arm. Brachial plexus injuries can be the basis for a negligence claim in some Maryland birth injury cases.
A state appellate court recently decided a case involving brachial plexus injury that occurred during the course of a delivery. In that case, the mother was being treated by an obstetrician for her pregnancy. The obstetrician advised inducing labor because the mother was diabetic, in order to minimize any possible issues. The mother went forward with the elective induction. During the delivery, the doctor found that the baby’s shoulder was lodged against the mother’s public bone, and that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. The obstetrician performed maneuvers to dislodge the baby’s shoulder in order to deliver the child, and the baby suffered a permanent brachial plexus injury.
A claim of negligence was filed by the parents against the obstetrician. They argued that the obstetrician failed to exercise ordinary care while delivering the plaintiffs’ baby, thereby causing the baby’s brachial plexus injury. The jury found the obstetrician was negligent and awarded the family $2.7 million in damages. However, before and after the trial, the obstetrician argued that the parents had to prove the higher standard of willful and wanton negligence because the obstetrician was providing emergency medical care at the time. Under a state statute, in cases involving the provision of emergency medical care, a plaintiff is required to prove willful and wanton negligence.
On appeal, the obstetrician argued that the jury should have been required to determine whether the obstetrician was providing emergency medical care at the time. The state supreme court found that the state statute applied to emergency medical care provided in an obstetric unit, even if the patient was not first treated in the emergency department. The court held that there was a dispute concerning whether the obstetrician provided emergency medical care to the mother and the baby, and the jury should have considered whether willful and wanton standard applied. Therefore, the court reversed the decision and ordered a new trial.
Contact a Maryland Injury Lawyer
Have you or a loved one been involved in an incident of Maryland medical malpractice? Birth injuries can be devastating and can affect children for the rest of their lives. Parents have the right to get answers and hold those accountable that are responsible for the injuries. The Maryland birth injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, understand the trauma that parents go through in the event of a birth injury. They work tirelessly to hold medical professionals accountable. Call (800) 654-1949 or contact us online as soon as possible.