Medical Malpractice: The sad case of shoulder dystocia

Our Chicago birth injury attorneys often receive troubling calls from heartbroken parents describing incidents of shoulder dystocia. According to a recent article from, shoulder dystocia is a birth complication often associated with, but not limited to pregnant women with diabetes. Shoulder dystocia occurs when a child’s head is delivered, but the shoulders of the child are unable to pass through the birth canal. When this occurs, the child is immediately in jeopardy of suffering serious birth injuries or even death. According to the report, sometimes doctors are able to avoid injury by quickly repositioning the child, but others aren’t so lucky.

Shoulder dystocia is one of the most dangerous birth complications. Once the head of a baby is delivered, significant strain is placed on the umbilical cord. In a typical childbirth setting this is not a problem because of the relatively short period of time between delivery of a baby’s head and shoulders. In shoulder dystocia cases, however, the prolonged stress often leads to permanent injuries.

John Perconti filed a lawsuit against Evanston Hospital in 2005 for complications suffered by Denise Juarez when the birth complication of shoulder dystocia caused her to ultimately suffer from Erb’s palsy, which is the weakness or loss of movement caused by damage to the nerve bundles at one’s shoulders.

While some cases involving shoulder dystocia can not be predicted, many others can, and failing to diagnose a fetus with a high propensity of suffering a shoulder dystocia is medical malpractice. In the case of Denise, the facility was negligent in a number of ways. The staff failed to perform an ultrasound prior to delivering Denise to determine her size, given the fact that Denise’s mother had previously delivered a large baby. Additionally, the staff failed to inform Denise’s mother of her increased risk for shoulder dystocia and failed to offer a Caesarean section as an option to reduce these risks. Finally, during delivery, the labor and delivery team failed to perform the proper disimpaction techniques, and the doctors applied excessive force causing Denise’s permanent nerve damage.

John and the rest of the birth injury lawyer team at Levin and Perconti, using their knowledge gained over many years practicing in the area, were able to settle Denise’s case for $1.3 million dollars. This money will help provide Denise the care and treatment necessary to live a more normal life.

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