What is shoulder dystocia?
Baby shoulder dystocia occurs when after the delivery of the head, the shoulder of a newborn gets stuck behind the mother’s pelvic bone. This occurrence requires special attention and care from the doctors and medical care providers, as it can result in damage to nerves in the baby’s shoulder and neck that would risk paralysis and permanent disability. Brain injury is also a risk of shoulder dystocia if delivery of the baby is mismanaged.
What are some of the risk factors that increase the chances of shoulder dystocia occurring in infant deliveries?
Larger infants are generally considered to be more at risk of shoulder dystocia, but normal weight babies are at risk as well. While it can be difficult even for skilled obstetricians to predict whether a baby will be at risk of shoulder dystocia during the birth process, there are many factors that are associated with an increase risk of shoulder dystocia. These risk factors are widely accepted and should be recognized as potential signs of delivery problems. These risk factors include:
- Large infants;
- Delivery after the baby’s due date;
- The mother is obese;
- The mother has a history of delivering a large baby;
- The other has had a previous baby that suffered shoulder dystocia during delivery;
- Abnormally narrow birth way in the mother;
- Pregnant woman with diabetes, especially type 2 or gestational diabetes which contributes to the development of larger babies; and
- Failure on the part of the doctor to perform certain screening tests.
If you feel your baby was injured during delivery, don’t dismiss your own case because your infant is not abnormally large.
What are some of the complications of baby shoulder dystocia?
Complications for the baby include:
- “Blue baby syndrome” – a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain which can lead to permanent brain damage or death;
- Injury to nerves in hands, arms, and/or shoulder;
- The development of palsies, shaking, or even paralysis. Although these symptoms may resolve on in 6-12 months, babies can suffer life-long problems;
- Broken bones; most typically arm or shoulder.
Complications the mother can suffer include:
- Maternal postpartum hemorrhage occurs in approximately 11 percent of cases involving infant shoulder dystocia during delivery;
- Maternal 3rd-4th degree perineal lacerations;
- Tearing of the uterus, vagina, cervix, or rectum;
- Bruising of the bladder;
- If an emergency c-section is required, additional complications can result from surgery.
Are birth injuries from shoulder dystocia always a result of medical malpractice?
No, however the failure to offer or provide a c-section to the mother after knowing an infant was abnormally large may qualify as negligence and malpractice if the infant experiences shoulder dystocia and is injured. Even if known risks were not present, shoulder dystocia can result in serious injury or death for both the mother and her baby and how an obstetrician and the hospital team responds to this medical emergency is critical. How an obstetrician does or does not respond to this emergency may be a case of medical neglect or malpractice.
The American Academy of Family Physician, an organization comprised of doctors, recommends when risks of shoulder dystocia are known, a delivery plan that factors in the possibility of a difficult delivery should be set up in advance.
“If shoulder dystocia is anticipated on the basis of risk factors, preparatory tasks can be accomplished before delivery. Key personnel can be alerted, and the patient and her family can be educated about the steps that will be taken in the event of a difficult delivery. The patient’s bladder should be emptied, and the delivery room cleared of unnecessary clutter to make room for additional personnel and equipment.”
If your baby was injured as a result of negligent delivery and shoulder dystocia, contact our law firm immediately for compassionate and experienced legal representation in medical malpractice cases. You may be entitled to compensation for your babys’ suffering and compensation to pay your child’s medical bills and future medical expenses.
Experienced Medical Malpractice and Shoulder Dystocia Birth Injuries Trial Lawyers
We rely on medical professionals to provide a certain standard of care, a standard that includes the safe and effective delivery of our babies when their eyes first gaze upon the world. If a medical professional fails to meet that standard then the mother may be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering, disability, and medical bills that resulted from their baby’s injury.
If you feel your baby suffered an injury during birth as the result of doctor, hospital, or post-operative nursing care negligence, contact our law offices as soon as possible. Medical malpractice law is notoriously complicated and confusing, so having an experienced medical malpractice trial lawyer will be vital in sorting out the facts of your case and in establishing liability on the part of the medical provider.
We work hard to get you compensation fast, but if we are not able to obtain a fair settlement for you, we we will go to court to hold those responsible for your baby’s injuries accountable for their actions.