Baltimore Accident Attorneys Advocate on Behalf of Birth Injury Victims
Maryland Injury Firm Focuses on Shoulder Dystocia Injuries
Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury that happens after delivery of the head, when the baby’s shoulder gets caught above the mother’s pubic bone, causing the infant’s head to retract back into the vagina. It is a medical emergency that an urgent cesarean section (C-section) or surgery cannot correct.
Shoulder dystocia is typically first observed when the baby’s shoulders remain in the mother’s pelvic area after the head has come out. After a shoulder dystocia delivery, approximately 20 percent of the babies will sustain a temporary or permanent injury. Women giving birth are also at risk for complications like tearing of the cervix, rectum or vagina; uterine rupture, bruising of the bladder, and hemorrhage.
Is Shoulder Dystocia Preventable?
In most instances, shoulder dystocia is a preventable condition if the doctor closely monitors the labor and schedules an emergency cesarean section if fetal distress is detected. To avoid the risk of shoulder dystocia, C-section delivery is often the best option for larger infants who have been diagnosed with cephalopelvic disorder (CPD).
When shoulder dystocia occurs, doctors generally attempt certain medical maneuvers – such as internal rotation, the McRoberts or the Zavanelli maneuver, and suprapubic pressure – to help get the baby out safely and prevent injury. However, while attempting to pull the infant out, physicians sometimes use extreme force that can lead to brachial plexus palsy, fractured bones, and facial injuries.
Shoulder Dystocia Lawsuits
If a shoulder dystocia injury occurs because the delivery was mishandled by medical personnel, a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed to recover damages to compensate the family for their losses. Such lawsuits might make the following claims:
- Due to the presence of certain risk factors – an unusually large fetus, maternal obesity, preexisting or gestational diabetes, and prior shoulder dystocia – the physician should reasonably have been able to predict that shoulder dystocia might likely occur.
- Because of the risk factors involved, the mother should have been given the option of delivery by C-section.
- The shoulder dystocia injury occurred due to the doctor’s use of excessive force, a failure to act according to the medical standard of care.
Although some cases of shoulder dystocia eventually heal, others leave a child at risk for permanent injury or in severe cases, death.