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Baby Shoulder Dystocia Malpractice Lawyers

If a physician applies negligent traction to a baby with shoulder dystocia, a brachial plexus injury can occur. At The Lawrence Firm, PSC, our shoulder dystocia attorneys help parents whose babies suffered as a result of mismanaged shoulder dystocia during birth. We use our vast experience and considerable resources to obtain compensation for parents and their children. With offices in both Covington and Cincinnati, we provide passionate legal services for clients all throughout Kentucky and Ohio.

Shoulder Dystocia medical malpractice attorneys

What is Shoulder Dystocia?

During normal labor and delivery, the baby’s neck and head will breach the mother’s pelvis first, subsequently followed in the next few contractions by the remainder of the body. However, this progression is interrupted in cases of shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia occurs when a baby’s shoulders fail to follow the baby’s head through the birth canal during labor and delivery. In these instances, the head is able to breach the mother’s pubic bone, but one of the shoulders is essentially stuck. As a result, the baby’s shoulders require prompt medical assistance from the obstetrician to maneuver the child’s body and resolve shoulder dystocia.

If proper action is not taken, a case of shoulder dystocia can be extremely damaging to the mother and disabling to the baby. If your infant has experienced a birth injury such as a brachial plexus injury or Erb’s Palsy because of mismanagement of shoulder dystocia, you may have a medical malpractice claim. Speak with a Cincinnati birth injury attorney at The Lawrence Firm right away to learn more about your legal rights and options.

How Common is Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia occurs in approximately 1 out of every 150 vaginal births, which is about 0.7%. Brachial plexus injuries are one of the most common complications arising from shoulder dystocia, with estimates indicating that 1-8 of every 1,000 babies born each year suffer from such injuries.

Dangers of Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is considered an obstetric emergency, and if not controlled and handled promptly, it can result in significant birth injuries such as Erb’s palsy, cerebral palsy, and other conditions arising from nerve damage. Other potential problems may even include broken bones and brain damage.

In addition to causing injury to the infant, shoulder dystocia can also cause major problems for the mother. Postpartum hemorrhage is the most prevalent maternal health issue connected with shoulder dystocia. Cervical or vaginal lacerations, as well as serious injury to the rectum and bladder, are further complications or maternal traumas that can result from shoulder dystocia cases.

Further, shoulder dystocia may frequently be associated with umbilical cord issues, such as cord compression. Umbilical cord compression occurs when the umbilical cord is squeezed or pinched during labor and delivery, affecting the baby’s oxygen supply. In cases of shoulder dystocia, the umbilical cord may be crushed against the mother’s pelvic bone due to the baby’s trapped shoulder. This kind of compression is extremely harmful and can result in damage to the baby’s brain.

In very severe and rare cases, failure to properly address shoulder dystocia might also result in the death of a newborn if it is not adequately handled in the delivery room. If surgeons are unable to swiftly remove the baby’s shoulder and deliver the infant, oxygen deprivation can develop, leading to death in some extreme circumstances.

shoulder dystocia malpractice attorneys

Risk Factors for Shoulder Dystocia

In general, shoulder dystocia is not something that can be predicted and can occur in virtually any pregnancy. However, there are certain factors that might make a baby more susceptible to shoulder dystocia. The leading risk for shoulder dystocia is a large baby with a high birth weight. According to American Family Physician, “The overall incidence of shoulder dystocia varies from 0.6 to 1.4% of all infants with a birth weight of 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces) to 4,000 grams (8 pounds, 13 ounces).” Other potential risk factors include things like:

  • Short maternal stature
  • Overdue pregnancy
  • Maternal obesity
  • Maternal diabetes / gestational diabetes
  • Platypelloid (flat) pelvis
  • Maternal weight gain of over 35 lbs
  • Abnormally long labor
  • Shoulder dystocia in previous pregnancy

Shoulder Dystocia Long Term Effects

As mentioned, shoulder dystocia can prove to have life-altering and long-term effects for a newborn. Injuries from shoulder dystocia occur when the physician tries to pull the baby out without attempting standard obstetric maneuvers that have been proven to work. Sometimes, these unwarranted maneuvers may stretch and break the nerves in the baby’s neck and shoulder, resulting in limb paralysis, cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and other serious birth injuries and complications. 

As a result of such medical malpractice, the infant may experience medical problems and permanent injury for the rest of their lives. Babies often need orthopedic or neurosurgery in the first months of life to correct problems caused by poor management of shoulder dystocia. From there, they may still require years of medical treatment, therapy, and the use of assistive devices for the remainder of their life. 

To ensure their child’s comfort, parents often go to great lengths and spend an excessive amount of their own money. This simply should not be the case if a medical professional is at fault for the birth injury in question. If a doctor’s error can lead to a lifetime of troubles and challenges, they should be held financially responsible for these troubles. If you or your child have suffered long-term effects from birth injuries of any kind that resulted from medical malpractice, you have the ability to file a birth injury lawsuit against the responsible parties. Read on to learn more about how to get started on building your medical malpractice case.

Brachial Plexus Injury resulting in erb's palsy_medical malpractice attorney

Can You Prevent Baby Shoulder Dystocia?

Though there is generally no way to prevent shoulder dystocia from occuring, there are actions that a doctor should take to lessen the chance of any further injury. For example, many shoulder dystocia cases can be averted due to screening measures and the availability of prenatal care and technology. In situations of shoulder dystocia, clinicians can prepare for the risk for shoulder dystocia and apply established medical techniques to help avoid any potential problems. These techniques include repositioning the woman or the infant to allow the shoulder to pass, as well as a variety of gentle pushing/pulling techniques.

Cutting a very deep episiotomy, breaking the baby’s collarbone or the mother’s pelvis, and performing an emergency C-section are more dangerous options. If a doctor does abide by the standards for medical care in such a situation, both the baby and the mother may suffer permanent injury.

Medical Malpractice Claim for Shoulder Dystocia

All doctors and nurses owe obligations to the patients they serve. During labor and delivery, a delivery medical team must keep an eye on the mother and infant to spot any potential difficulties and anticipate shoulder dystocia, among other potential birth injuries. Failure to follow acknowledged standards of care throughout pregnancy, labor, and delivery can result in serious birth injury, disability, and even death.

If a doctor or other health-care provider fails to monitor or respond appropriately to certain situations that emerge during delivery such as baby shoulder dystocia, they may be considered negligent in their obligation to patients. To be negligent as a result of a medical error made during pregnancy or childbirth, the medical professional must not have employed the same level of care as other members of the medical profession in the same or comparable situations. This is the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Shoulder Dystocia Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Some shoulder dystocia injuries can be traced back to the carelessness of physicians, nurses, and other medical staff. However, only a thorough examination of the medical records can reveal the source of the injuries and if the doctor or delivery team’s negligence contributed to the birth injury.

At The Lawrence Firm, our birth injury lawyers have plenty of experience examining medical errors and birth injury malpractice cases in Kentucky and Ohio, as well as the means to obtain outside experts who can analyze intricate birth injury cases, if necessary.

If your child’s shoulder dystocia has left you feeling emotionally, physically, or financially drained, you may be able to file a claim for medical negligence and receive proper compensation for your losses. If your baby’s injuries were the result of mismanagement of shoulder dystocia, contact an contact our experienced Ohio and Kentucky birth injury attorneys now to discuss filing a claim.

Call The Lawrence Firm, PSC at 800-698-4054 or complete the online intake form found below for a free consultation to discuss your options.

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You Pay No Fees Unless We Win!

We are happy to offer a free consultation to evaluate your case. If you hire us as your legal counsel, we will represent you on a contingency-fee basis. You will pay no attorneys’ fees unless we recover financial damages.