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Shoulder Dystocia: The Truth

Wagner Reese

If you are a parent who has been told your baby suffered an injury as a result of shoulder dystocia, you are probably experiencing many emotions and have many questions. The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Wagner Reese are here to help.

Although medical providers may try to make excuses for why this occurred, the truth is that many of these injuries can be avoided with careful monitoring and planning by the health care provider. Wagner Reese provides free initial case consultations for parents of children affected by injuries from shoulder dystocia, because we believe you deserve to know the truth about your medical care.

What is Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is a complication that occurs during delivery when one or both of the baby's shoulders become stuck in the birth canal. When the baby's shoulder becomes stuck, the rest of the baby's delivery becomes more difficult. Shoulder dystocia is an obstetric emergency that can result in permanent injury to the baby and complications for the mother.

How Does Infant Shoulder Dystocia Affect the Baby?

A birth complicated by shoulder dystocia can result in serious long-term effects for the baby. The major concern is loss of oxygen while the baby is stuck in the birth canal, which can cause injury to the baby’s brain, or even death. Oxygen deprivation can result in long–term effects such as epilepsy, attention deficit disorder, and cerebral palsy.

The medical personnel attending the birth may try to physically pull the baby out, and this may result in additional injuries. Commonly, infants suffer from broken bones, facial deformities, and injuries. Babies may also develop any number of long-term nerve damage disorders, such as Brachial Plexus Palsy, Erb's palsy, and Klumpke's Palsy, which can result in lifelong developmental and physical disability for the child.

How Does Infant Shoulder Dystocia Affect the Mother?

As a result of the doctor's efforts to remove the baby, mothers may have lasting medical consequences. Approximately 11% of all cases involving shoulder dystocia result in postpartum maternal bleeding. Severe tearing may occur as well. A more severe consequence is a uterine rupture, which can result in the mother becoming disabled or unable to carry another child. In extreme situations, uterine ruptures can result in the mother's death.

Risk Factors

There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of shoulder dystocia. The size of the baby, giving birth after the baby’s due date, previous instances of shoulder dystocia during birth, induced labor, and epidural use may increase the incidence of shoulder dystocia. The way in which the doctor delivers the child may contribute to the degree of complications that both the mother and the child will have.

The medical malpractice attorneys at Wagner Reese understand how traumatizing these birth experiences and the injuries that result can be for the family. In many cases, an experienced Indiana medical malpractice attorney can examine a case and help you decide if the severe injuries you or your child suffered as a result of shoulder dystocia are appropriate for a medical malpractice case. Contact Wagner Reese to discuss the specifics of your case today.


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