Shoulder Dystocia

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Shoulder dystocia is a rare yet serious birth complication that occurs when one or both shoulders of the baby becomes stuck behind the opening of the birth canal or the mother's pelvic bone. This birth injury puts both the baby and the mother at an increased risk.  It is an obstetric emergency, requiring quick and careful action by the delivery team to avoid serious complications.

Although shoulder dystocia often manifests for natural reasons, it can also occur as the result of medical malpractice by a negligent health care provider. If medical negligence played a role in your child's birth injury, you may be able to obtain compensation for the cost of immediate and future medical care and ongoing physical therapy, as well as pain and suffering.

In many cases, shoulder dystocia just requires some additional maneuvers by the medical team attending the birth. However, when shoulder dystocia is not treated properly or with its due urgency, life-changing consequences may result. Common birth injuries that may result from shoulder dystocia include: Brachial Plexus, Fetal Asphyxia,Fractured Clavicle and Humerus, and Maternal Injuries.  

Brachial Plexus

Brachial plexus injuries (including Erb's Palsy and Klumpke's Palsy) affect the bundle of nerves which controls the muscles of the shoulder, arm, and hand. As a result of a brachial plexus injury, all or some of the muscles in the shoulder and arm may suffer paralysis.

There are specific maneuvers that must be followed during a shoulder dystocia childbirth to avoid serious birth injury. When a doctor or other medical professional fails to follow these maneuvers and excessive pressure is placed on the baby's head or neck, the nerves may tear. In these instances, the physician may have committed malpractice.

Fetal Asphyxia

Fetal asphyxia refers to the deprivation of oxygen to a fetus as the result of interference to its blood supply. This dangerous event may occur if the fetus becomes stuck. If asphyxia persists for even a short period of time, serious brain damage may result.

Asphyxia may occur during a childbirth in which shoulder dystocia takes place if the delivery team does not deliver the child fast enough. If it is clear before a woman goes into labor that the baby is too big or the mother's pelvis too small to safely deliver, a cesarean section should be advised.

Note: Fetal asphyxia may also be caused by the compression of the umbilical cord during childbirth. Failure to recognize this or other forms of fetal distress can also be considered medical malpractice.

Fractured Clavicle or Humerus

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 10 percent of births involving shoulder dystocia result in a fractured clavicle or humerus. Typically, fractured bones during birth are temporary injuries and pose no threat to the long-term health and well-being of the child. However, nerve damage may occur.

Maternal Injuries

During shoulder dystocia births, the mother is also at risk for serious injury. The most common, and serious, complication is excessive blood loss. If you have suffered injuries because of a shoulder dystocia birth, you may be eligible for financial compensation relating to your injuries. The birth injury attorneys at the Locks Law Firm can review your claim free of charge and explain your legal options.

Contact a Locks Law Firm Shoulder Dystocia and Birth Injury Lawyer

If you or your child has suffered a serious injury or a permanent disability because of a birth injury or shoulder dystocia related injury, you and your family may be eligible for financial compensation for hospital bills, future medical costs, and pain and suffering. To schedule a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation, contact the Locks Law Firm. Our Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York birth injury attorneys can help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled.

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