Shoulder dystocia is a serious medical complication of childbirth that involves the baby’s shoulders becoming lodged in the mother’s pelvic region. The obstetrician’s ability to recognize this complication and respond to it properly can make all the difference in the outcome.
Mismanagement of Shoulder Dystocia
Medical professionals who encounter a complication like shoulder dystocia should be aptly prepared to handle this emergency birth injury situation. Firstly, they should be competent enough to recognize the risk factors present in dystocia cases, such as mothers with diabetes and high-weight fetuses. Secondly, they should know when to attempt dislodging maneuvers, how to properly move a child in this position, and when to order a C-section. Whether they failed to take steps to prevent dystocia from occurring or failed to respond according to protocol, these trusted caregivers might be guilty of medical negligence.
In cases where a physician ignores the standards and instead pulls on the baby’s head in attempt to dislodge the shoulders, the resistance can be permanently disabling and even fatal. Excessive force or improper use of forceps can cause severe and irreparable damage to the brachial plexus nerves, resulting in many varieties of brachial plexus injury, including Erb’s palsy. If the complication is not responded to in time, shoulder dystocia can also cause lack of oxygen to the child’s brain, resulting in birth brain injury.
Injuries Resulting From Shoulder Dystocia
The nerve tissue in a baby’s upper arms, shoulder, and neck can stretch, tear, or rupture quite easily. It does not take much force to cause permanent damage, and any trained labor and delivery attendant should be aware of this.
Most brachial plexus injuries are apparent right at birth. If a new baby is not showing movement in one arm, it is most likely a nerve injury caused by shoulder dystocia. Babies with brachial plexus injuries tend to lie on one side or tilt their head to favor the weak side. Surgery and physical therapy are common treatments for children who show little or no improvement over time.
If you feel your child’s shoulder dystocia was handled negligently, you may have a medical malpractice claim against your delivery team. An experienced shoulder dystocia attorney can investigate the situation and help your family get the maximum malpractice compensation you need to provide your child with special needs care.