About Shoulder Dystocia Medical Malpractice

Shoulder dystocia is a medical complication where the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone.  This can happen because of the size or shape of the mother’s pelvis, the angle at which the baby passes through the birth canal, or the size of the baby.

No doctor can know when a shoulder dystocia will happen.  However, this medical complication happens often enough that all obstetricians know that they must be prepared to deal with it.  Through proper education, training and experience, children can be delivered free of shoulder dystocia injuries.

Shoulder Dystocia Injuries are Preventable

Doctors encountering a shoulder dystocia must react quickly.  The baby’s shoulder is lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone but the head is through the birth canal.  This partial delivery does not stop the powerful contractions, which put pressure on the baby (often on the baby’s neck) and the umbilical cord while the baby is stuck.  If the baby is not delivered in the next few minutes, lack of oxygen to the brain will begin to cause permanent injuries.

There are a series of maneuvers that obstetricians and the delivery team must perform when they encounter a shoulder dystocia.

    1. McRoberts Maneuver:  bending the mother’s legs up to her chest
    1. Suprapubic Pressure:  pushing down on the mother’s stomach at a fort-five degree angle
    1. Woods/Rubens Maneuver:  rotating the baby from inside the birth canal
    1. Episiotomy:  surgically cutting the area between the vagina and the anus to give the baby more room for delivery
    1. Zavenelli Maneuver:  pushing the baby back into the vagina and performing a cesarean section
    1. Symphsectomy:  surgically cutting the mother’s pubic bone to allow room for the baby’s shoulder to come through

Doctors learn about these procedures in medical school, and they are continually refreshed in continuing medical education seminars.  With proper attention, children should not have shoulder dystocia injuries.

Shoulder Dystocia Lawsuits

Obstetricians and hospitals vigorously defend shoulder dystocia lawsuits.  Important evidence to use at trial includes:

    • Medical records from labor and delivery
    • Pictures/video taken by family members
    • Testimony from friends and family members who saw how the doctors and nurses reacted to the shoulder dystocia emergency

In particular, anything that the doctors and nurses said during the delivery can be important to show that they understood the emergency, and to show how they dealt with it.

Shoulder Dystocia Injuries

There are four types of injuries caused by shoulder dystocia:

    • Erb’s Palsy:  The first type of brachial plexus injury, Erb’s palsy is an injury to the upper nerves that lead from the spinal cord.  Children with Erb’s Palsy have full or partial paralysis of the arm.
    • Klumpke’s Palsy:  The second type of brachial plexus injury, Klumpke’s palsy is an injury to the lower nerves that lead from the spinal cord.  Children with Klumpke’s palsy have paralyzed forearms and hands.
    • Developmental Delays:  When a shoulder dystocia causes prolonged lack of oxygen, a child may lose important brain cells and may suffer from developmental delays.
    • Cerebral Palsy:  lack of oxygen caused by shoulder dystocia can also cause cerebral palsy.

Contact Us

If your child’s birth was complicated by shoulder dystocia and you believe that your child might have injuries from delivery, contact our child injury lawyers at (855) 712-7818 or online for a complimentary consultation .  We will discuss your experiences, examine medical records and contact experts to help you find out if your child is entitled to compensation for his or her injuries.

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