LEGAL EAGLE Could baby’s injury have been avoided?

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I gave birth to my son who was my third child early last year and unfortunately he has no use of his right arm because of a brachial plexus injury to his right shoulder that he suffered at the time he was born.

Adam is my third child and his elder sister, the second born, was also born with some injury to her shoulder but it was very minor.

I was told when I was expecting Adam that he was a large baby but it was planned that I would continue with a normal delivery. Nobody at the hospital or at the clinics discussed any other options with me.

As it is becoming clear that Adam is not going to get any use out of his arm I am wondering whether he should have been born by caesarean section which I am told would have avoided his shoulder injury.

I am sorry to hear of Adam’s injury and I hope that there may be the opportunity for some surgery in the future which might assist him.

The question as to whether Adam’s injury could have been or should have been avoided can be looked at from two perspectives.

Firstly, a detailed review of your past obstetric records should be undertaken to determine whether there should have been a discussion with you over Adam’s planned normal delivery.

There have been recent cases which have established that hospitals are under a duty to discuss with a mother available modes of delivery and the risks attached to each one.

In Adam’s case there may be a strong argument that this discussion should have taken place because of the minor shoulder injury experienced by your daughter when she was born.

The next question is what you would have decided to do if all available options had been given to you with the risks of each one discussed.

Any investigation would also look into the techniques used at the time Adam was born to see if the delivery was carried out correctly.

If a claim were to be pursued Adam would need to establish that the care provided did not meet the standard required both to you and him in either the pre-delivery discussions and/or the delivery itself.

It is important to contact a solicitor with specialist expertise in clinical/medical negligence.

Specialist solicitors will be on the specialist Law Society Accreditation panel or alternatively the AvMA panel which recognises solicitors for their experience and expertise in this area.