Medical and Legal Issues Related to Brachial Plexus Injuries in Neonates

Gary N. McAbee, DO, JD; and Carman Ciervo, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Published: April 1, 2006

J Osteopath Med; 106(4): 209-212

Injuries to the brachial plexus in neonates present a malpractice dilemma not only for physicians who provide obstetric care, but also for those who administer immediate postnatal treatment for newborns who have these injuries and comorbid medical conditions. Although trauma remains the probable etiology for many brachial plexus injuries, other, nontraumatic etiologies need to be considered. The authors review current medical and legal principles related to brachial plexus injuries—principles that are of concern to all practitioners who provide obstetric and newborn care. They also make a number of recommendations for practitioners to reduce the risk of malpractice lawsuits related to these injuries. Among these recommendations are increasing one’s awareness of nontraumatic origins; making sure that appropriate testing (eg, electromyography) is performed for infants whose conditions fail to improve within several months after birth; and taking a proactive role in discussing brachial plexus injuries with patients’ families.

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