Shoulder Dystocia: The Truth

If you are a parent who has been told your newborn baby suffered an injury as a result of shoulder dystocia during delivery, you are probably experiencing many strong emotions, and have even more questions. The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Wagner Reese are here to help give you the answers you need.

Although medical providers may try to make excuses for why your child’s injury occurred, the truth is that many birth injuries can be avoided with careful monitoring, planning, and swift action by the health care provider. When health care providers fail to act and harm results, they can be held responsible for their negligence.

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 if immediate action isn’t taken.

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 a loss of oxygen while the baby is stuck in the birth canal, which can cause damage 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 that will follow your child through life.

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 when this happens. 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 many 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. How the doctor delivers the child may contribute to the degree of complications that both the mother and the child will have.

How Do Negligent Medical Professionals Cause Shoulder Dystocia?

Doctors, nurses, and midwives should be ready to act immediately if they diagnose or suspect shoulder dystocia. Any medical professional who works in labor and delivery should know all of the most effective and common methods for reducing the severity of the condition or lessening the severity of any injuries that may occur. Some of these techniques include:

  • Performing a C-section—In some cases, women may need to deliver their babies via C-section if they are at risk of shoulder dystocia.
  • Performing the McRoberts maneuver—This maneuver involves women in labor pressing their thighs against their bellies to rotate their pelvis and release pressure on their babies’ shoulders.
  • Performing an episiotomy—This procedure involves cutting the vagina to make more room for the baby and its shoulder during birth.
  • Performing a Rubin maneuver—This maneuver involves a healthcare provider physically turning the baby’s shoulder during labor to reduce the risk of serious injuries when shoulder dystocia is diagnosed.

These are just a few of the emergency procedures that can be performed to reduce damage and the risk of serious injuries associated with shoulder dystocia. It’s up to labor and delivery healthcare providers to both diagnose shoulder dystocia and employ the safest and most effective method for delivering in a manner that reduces harm to both mother and child.

Wagner Reese Works Hard to Assist Families Hurt by Shoulder Dystocia

Although shoulder dystocia and other birth defects aren’t always someone’s fault, the way they are treated or managed often are. That’s because they should be both diagnosed before they cause serious problems, and appropriate interventions should always be attempted to keep mothers and babies as safe from harm as possible. Unfortunately, not all medical professionals are as attentive as they should be, and that can result in serious injuries.

The Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Wagner Reese understand how traumatizing these birth experiences and the injuries that result can be for the family, especially when they could have been prevented. 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.