When a mother goes through a difficult birth, she should be able to trust that her doctors and nurses will take every precaution to protect the health of her child. Doctors train for years to predict the many injuries a newborn can suffer in birth and should respond accordingly to prevent them.
One of the most dangerous complications is shoulder dystocia, which occurs when a baby’s shoulder bone becomes lodged on the mother’s pubic bone after the baby’s head has already exited the birth canal. Doctors should quickly and carefully take steps to dislodge the child and minimize all possible damage. If they don’t, the child can suffer serious injuries such as Erb’s palsy or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).
If your child did suffer a birth injury due to medical negligence, you should not hesitate to contact our team at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP. We have more than 50 years of experience and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of injured newborns and their parents. We can use all of our skills to investigate your child’s injuries and fight to get you full compensation. To discuss your case in a free consultation, call us at (212) 986-7353.
Shoulder dystocia literally means “difficult or prolonged delivery (due to a shoulder).” As a child begins to descend the birth canal, its shoulder may become trapped against the mother’s pubic bone after the head has already exited the vagina. This scenario is more common in larger babies where the chest and shoulders are bigger than the head. If the situation is not treated properly by a trained obstetrician, the child could suffer from several types of birth injuries -- even death.
Shoulder dystocia injuries are caused in two ways: first, if the infant is stuck for too long, he or she could suffer oxygen deprivation, leading to brain damage or death -- usually, because the umbilical cord is compressed. However, if the doctor rushes or applies too much pressure when dislodging the infant, the doctor can cause serious trauma to the neck or shoulder of the infant, potentially causing lifelong paralysis.
Shoulder dystocia can be the cause of several types of birth injuries, including:
- Brachial plexus injury, which may lead to Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
- Different types of brain damage
- Fractured clavicles, humerus, or ribs
It should be noted that mothers can also be harmed by this situation. Maternal injuries like postpartum hemorrhaging, vaginal lacerations, anal tears, and uterine ruptures are all possible if doctors aren’t careful.
Shoulder dystocia cannot be avoided 100%, but the chances can be diminished, and the situation dealt with if necessary. The OB/GYN should act quickly but carefully to dislodge the child and complete the birth without causing undo harm to mother or child.
A key element of medical malpractice is determining whether your doctor acted in a way that another reasonable doctor would have in a similar situation. Shoulder dystocia is a well-documented condition, and doctors are trained in how to properly respond to it. If your doctor failed to provide the standard of care in that situation and injured your child, then your family deserves full compensation.
In a shoulder dystocia claim, a doctor can be found liable for:
- Failing to predict shoulder dystocia: Shoulder dystocia can sometimes be predicted by carefully reviewing the mother’s medical history, paying close attention to the infant’s size and weight, and noting the presence of certain medical conditions. If an impending birth is likely to involve shoulder dystocia, the OB/GYN should consider a c-section or at least offer that option to the mother. Going ahead with a birth despite knowing that shoulder dystocia is likely can be considered an act of negligence.
- Using excessive force: During birth, the doctor should apply minimal pressure to the newborn’s body to prevent injuries. There are several maneuvers, including the Rubin, Jacquemier’s, or Wood’s screw, that may allow the doctor to dislodge the newborn and safely complete the birth. Providing too much traction, gripping the newborn’s neck or head, or misusing a vacuum or forceps can damage the brachial plexus nerves under the clavicle, causing paralysis for the child.
No infant should be left with a disability because a doctor failed to follow procedure. Shoulder dystocia can usually be predicted, and there are steps doctors can take to prevent serious injuries. If your child suffered a birth injury due to shoulder dystocia because a doctor acted negligently, then you may be able to recover compensation in a medical malpractice claim.
At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, our New York medical malpractice lawyers have sat down with too many parents who had their lives turned upside down by negligent medical care. We know just how heart-wrenching it is to watch your child’s birth turned into a nightmare, as well as the rough road you have ahead with your child’s disability. That is why we fight hard for children and their parents after a birth injury.
We can use our more than 50 years of experience to investigate the true reason behind your child’s injuries, and advocate for the maximum possible compensation from the at-fault hospital on your behalf. We have a successful track record with birth injury cases and can provide the same expert legal representation to your family.
To sit down with us in a free consultation, call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353.
WRSH Partner Philip Russotti obtained a $10 Million mediation settlement for failure to timely perform a Cesarean Section. The case was venued in Orange County, NY.
WRSH Partner, Phil Russotti, obtained a $6 million settlement for our client whose child suffered severe brain damage during birth.
We claimed that the baby should have been delivered by emergency C-Section or forceps delivery. He was ultimately diagnosed with cerebral palsy and spastic quadriparesis.
Partner Philip Russotti argued that as a result of this negligence, the child suffered hypoxia which resulted in mild retardation, severe ADHD and social isolation as well as difficulties with fine motor skills.
WRSH obtained a $1,300,000 jury verdict, after a three week medical malpractice trial in Staten Island, on behalf of a 6-year-old girl who suffered a brachial plexus injury known as Erb's palsy.
We claimed that the hospital was negligent for not intervening and performing a cesarean section in light of the mother's failure to adequately progress in labor.