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Shoulder Dystocia Injuries at Birth

The birth of a child is supposed to be a happy event. While in most cases, the birth goes well, sometimes an injury occurs. An injury to the infant can be very difficult for the family and painful for the newborn. One of the most common injuries that can happen during vaginal birth is shoulder dystocia. Shoulder dystocia is an injury that happens when the baby’s shoulders become lodged in the mother during birth. The newborn’s head is delivered; however, the baby gets stuck. This may result in birth injuries to the child. In many cases, the injury could have been prevented and if so, the doctor may have acted in a negligent manner.

Shoulder Dystocia
Shoulder dystocia can cause a prolonged or delayed birth. In situations where the birth is delayed, the child could be deprived of oxygen. If there is a lack of oxygen, brain damage may occur. An attempt by the doctor to assist the birth by using forceps or a vacuum will increase the possibility of nerve injuries to the shoulder which could be severe. For these reasons, doctors need to be aware of the potential for a problem and prepare accordingly.

Risk Factors for Shoulder Dystocia
While shoulder dystocia may occur at any time, some women are at a higher risk for than others. Some of the risk factors include:

· Large Baby
· Diabetes
· Obesity
· Multiple Birth
· Past Due Date
· Induced Labor
· Epidural
· Assisted Birth

The doctor needs to carefully monitor the mother throughout her pregnancy and labor. Tests will show the approximate weight or size of the baby, which may be a considerable problem during birth. In cases where there is a high risk pregnancy, the doctor should determine whether a cesarean section is a better option than a vaginal birth. Additionally, the doctor must have the support staff ready to assist in the birth if necessary. Prevention is essential in reducing the incidence of shoulder dystocia.

Injuries Due to Shoulder Dystocia
When the baby is delayed or lodged at birth there are a couple of problems that could happen. The baby will be delayed during delivery, which can cause a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain. Brain damage may occur or the baby could even die as a result. A more common injury in this situation is to the nerve bundles in the shoulder, which can become pinched, stretched, or pulled. This will cause movement problems with the shoulder, arm, and hand which may be temporary or permanent.

Medical Malpractice During Birth
The doctor is responsible for delivering the baby in a manner that will keep both the mother and baby out of harm’s way. In the case of shoulder dystocia, the doctor should be able to determine whether the mother is at high risk for this occurrence and take the necessary steps to prevent injury. For example, if a pregnant woman is overdue and the baby is large, the best option may be to avoid vaginal delivery with a C-section. Negligence on the part of a doctor is not acceptable. If your baby was injured due to medical malpractice or an error on the part of the doctor, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced legal team at Levin & Perconti to schedule a free confidential consultation.

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Medical Malpractice: The sad case of shoulder dystocia