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Understanding Shoulder Dystocia & Other Birth Trauma Injuries

Steve Wagner

When the birth of a child is marred by a medical nightmare, it could often change the very course of life for families. What can start off as a normal delivery can instantly turn dangerous, if, after the baby’s head has emerged, its shoulder gets stuck in the perineum and the baby’s cheeks puff up. If not released in a few minutes, there are chances the baby can suffer from infant brain damage or even die. This situation is referred to as shoulder dystocia.

This delivery room emergency can occur in 0.6% to 1.4% of infants in the birth range of 5 to 8 pounds, according to a publication in the American Family Physician. This rate goes up to between 5% and 9% in babies weighing in at 9 pounds and born to non-diabetic mothers. This roughly translates to 20,000 births out of 4 million that take place in a given year.

Changing the course of life

  • Medical aftermath: Almost 20% of the babies that suffer shoulder dystocia will end up with an injury which can be temporary or for life. Common among these are brachial plexus nerves which can lead to Erb’s Palsy or Klumpke Palsy depending on the case. A fractured clavicle is experienced by at least 10% of the infants born this way. Almost 4% of the babies will have a fractured humerus and possibly experience fetal asphyxia. Needless to say the suffering of a newborn child is immense as is that of the new parents. If damage occurs on a permanent basis, it can result in a lifetime of care and expenses needed exclusively to deal with this, and this can be an expensive affair.
  • Why take it up legally: While it is possible to take measures to prevent the occurrence of shoulder dystocia, a severely affected infant is an indication of the medical professional being negligent or being unable to handle the emergency in the right manner when it occurs. In such cases of delivery room errors, it is necessary for the family to hold the person or the institution responsible and make them liable for damages.

Why should you file a lawsuit?

  • Why an injury lawyer: A case of medical negligence can often be difficult to handle. It is imperative that you have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. One of the main reasons for this is that shoulder dystocia cases are subject to a statute of limitations, and only a lawyer will be able to tell you where you stand with regards to your location.
  • Proving your case: One of the key points to prove in a shoulder dystocia case is the use of excessive traction that may have led to complications. The time taken to detect the emergency, the amount of time in dealing with it and the manner in which it was handled will all have to be scrutinized.

Finding the right help
If you are looking for the right kind of legal advice on a shoulder dystocia or any birth trauma injury case, an Indianapolis birth injury lawyer will be able to give you all the assistance you need. Contact the medical malpractice attorneys of Wagner Reese for a free consultation.

Understanding Birth Injuries
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