Before we address when you might consider filing a lawsuit against a physician for shoulder dystocia, we are going to discuss what it is and when it occurs so you have a better understanding of when a health care provider can be held accountable after a child and/or mother suffers as a result of it.
Understanding Shoulder Dystocia and What It Is
When a baby’s head is delivered vaginally and his/her “shoulders get stuck inside the mother’s body” unable pass through, shoulder dystocia occurs [Source: March of Dimes]. Although shoulder dystocia is often unpredictable and occurs during delivery, health care professionals are trained to provide the necessary care to ensure both baby and mother are safe.
Who is more at risk of having shoulder dystocia occur?
The March of Dimes organization says that mothers with the following circumstances may be at risk for shoulder dystocia:
- She is expected to deliver a very large baby.
- She has diabetes.
- She is pregnant with more than one baby.
- She is obese.
- She gives birth after the baby is scheduled to be born.
- She had a very large baby or a shoulder dystocia in the past.
- She is induced.
- She gets an epidural to help with pain during labor.
- She has an “operative vaginal birth” which is when “her provider uses tools, like forceps or a vacuum, to help the baby through the birth canal.”
In the event shoulder dystocia does occur during delivery, doctors are expected to employ “calm and effective management” in order to “relieve the impacted shoulder and allow for spontaneous delivery of the infant.” Some of the maneuvers physicians use when shoulder dystocia occurs include:
- The McRoberts maneuver
- Suprapubic pressure
- Internal rotation
- Removal of the posterior arm to relieve the impacted shoulder and allow for spontaneous delivery of the infant.
[Source: American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)].
Generally, one of the following maneuvers will help for a safe and injury free delivery, however, sometimes complications do arise. For instance, the baby could experience one of the following complications:
- They suffer an injury to the nerves in their shoulder, arms, and hand which could lead to them shaking or suffering from paralysis. The March of Dimes states that these issues often dissipate within six to 12 months.
- Brachial plexus palsies, although the AAFP says that “nearly all palsies resolve within six to 12 months, with fewer than 10 percent resulting in permanent injury.”
- The baby suffers from a lack of oxygen to the brain which can lead to brain damage or worse, death.
Some complications a mother might experience when a shoulder dystocia emergency arises include:
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Fourth-degree lacerations
When a baby experiences shoulder dystocia and it results in either the mother or child suffering injuries, then you may have a valid case on your hands. If you can prove that the treating physician failed to provide the standard level of care that would have been administered had another physician been delivering the child, then you stand a better chance at winning your case. Now, because medical malpractice cases aren’t easy to win as doctors and hospitals have lawyers of their own and laws that protect them, it is best that you contact Gary, IN personal injury attorney Marshall P. Whalley if you feel you have grounds to file a lawsuit.
We encourage you to contact our office at 219-769-2900 to schedule an initial consultation so that we can review the details of your matter and determine what your next steps should be.
You can also visit Marshall P. Whalley & Associates, PC at:
51 W. 112th Avenue
Crown Point, IN 46307