Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury in which a newborn's shoulder(s) get stuck behind and can't pass through a mother's pelvic bones. The most common indication that shoulder dystocia is taking place during the delivery process is the turtle sign, an event in which the newborn's head pushes out from, then retracts back into, the birth canal due to shoulder obstructions.
About 1 percent of all infants born in the U.S. sustain shoulder dystocia during the birthing process. Interestingly, however, studies indicate that healthcare professionals only report between 25 and 50 percent of shoulder dystocia cases.
Responses to Shoulder Dystocia
When shoulder dystocia occurs, medical professionals have to respond quickly to prevent further health damage to unborn infants. Common responses to shoulder dystocia include:
- the application of pressure to the mother's lower pelvic region
- the Gaskin maneuver, having a mother get on all fours and arch her back to open up the pelvis
- the Jacquemier's maneuver, delivering one shoulder and arm first
- the McRobert's maneuver, hyperextending the mother's legs to her pelvis to stretch the birth canal
Should none of these techniques be successful, more invasive responses to shoulder dystocia may include:
- intentional fracture of the infant's collar bone
- symphysiotomy, breaking the connective tissue between the mother's pubic bones to create more space for the infant to pass through
- the Zavanelli maneuver, pushing the baby's head back into the womb and then performing a C-section
Complications of Shoulder Dystocia
Complications of shoulder dystocia are serious and, in the worst cases, can result in permanent disability or death. If doctors and nurses fail to properly respond to shoulder dystocia, infants have a significant risk of sustaining:
- brachial plexus injury
- cerebral palsy
- Erb's palsy
- Klumpke palsy
Mothers are also at risk of experiencing injury following shoulder dystocia. Although maternal injuries tend to be less serious, they can be painful and debilitating in the short term. Maternal shoulder dystocia injuries may include:
- excessive blood loss
- nerve damage in the pelvic region
- urination difficulties
- vaginal, vulvar or rectal tears or bruising
Compensation for Shoulder Dystocia Complications
While shoulder dystocia itself may not be preventable, the response of healthcare professionals following this birth complication will affect:
- whether or not infants and mothers are injured
- the extent of any injuries sustained
In some cases, medical mistakes will contribute shoulder dystocia and its related complications. When this occurs, injured infants and mothers will be entitled to compensation for their injuries and losses.
In addition to pursuing all prescribed treatments, mothers and injured newborns should also consult with an affiliated birth injury lawyer to:
- Learn more about their legal rights
- Find out if they have a viable birth injury claim
- Consult with affiliated doctors and/or nurses who will evaluate the injury to determine the exact cause
- Learn more about the process associated with obtaining a shoulder dystocia settlement
- Get advice regarding the most appropriate manner in which to pursue their claim
- Secure aggressive, professional representation for future legal proceedings
Has your infant been diagnosed with a birth injury following shoulder dystocia?
If so, you may be eligible to recover compensation. For more information, please contact Litigators Incorporated. Our affiliated birth injury lawyers have decades of combined experience in helping affected families secure compensation for their child’s injuries and losses. All initial consultations are free of charge. Call toll free (866) 251-0808.
Verdicts & Settlements
Examples of results obtained by our affiliated cerebral palsy lawyers:
Verdict in a case involving a baby who suffered brain damage at birth as a result of medical malpractice. One of the largest medical malpractice verdicts ever awarded.
After presenting a skillful case supported by the best expert witnesses available, a verdict was obtained for the family of a baby who suffered severe brain damage and partial arm amputation because of negligent medical care. The case had previously been rejected by other law firms.
Jury ruled that the failure of the obstetrician to diagnose placental abruption resulted in a delayed caesarean section and lack of oxygen, which ultimately caused the baby to develop cerebral palsy.
Awarded to a boy who suffered permanent brain damage after the wrong surgical procedure was performed. The compensation ensures that the boy receives the lifelong medical care and treatment he needs.
The settlements and verdicts achieved in the listed cases were based on specific facts and circumstances unique to each case and the results achieved neither guarantee nor justify a reasonable expectation that the same results could be achieved for other clients in similar circumstances. Litigator's, Inc. had no involvement in the cases described above. The results achieved in those cases were accomplished by lawyers and law firms with whom Litigators Inc has affiliated on other cases.