When one or both of an infant’s shoulders become stuck in the mother’s pelvis during birth, it is known as shoulder dystocia. While rare, shoulder dystocia can be very serious and may lead to permanent disabilities and complications for both the newborn and the mother. It can cause Erb’s palsy (brachial plexus) and, in very severe cases, can even lead to death.
In some cases, shoulder dystocia and its effects are caused or worsened as a result of medical negligence. This can be the case if the mother exhibits certain risk factors but nurses, doctors, and other medical practitioners fail to take the necessary precautions. This can also be the case if shoulder dystocia is noted after delivery has already begun (as is usually the case) and doctors fail to properly notice or manage the issue.
If your child suffered injuries as a result of shoulder dystocia or after a difficult delivery, contact our New Hampshire shoulder dystocia attorneys at (603) 323-4622 today. During your free initial consultation, we can help you understand your legal options and rights.
Injuries Caused by Shoulder Dystocia
As previously mentioned, shoulder dystocia can result in injuries that range from mild to moderate to severe. In most cases, injuries are relatively minor and typically heal on their own within a few months to a year after the infant is born. However, even in milder cases, medical treatment may still be required for the child to properly heal. In more severe cases, the child may require life-long care for his or her injuries.
Examples of newborn injuries that can be caused by shoulder dystocia include:
- Brain damage caused by lack of oxygen
- Broken bones, particularly the arm and/or collarbone
- Nerve damage to the shoulder, arm, or hand
- Erb’s palsy/brachial plexus injury
- Temporary or permanent paralysis, partial or complete
Additionally, mothers may suffer serious injuries when their child endures shoulder dystocia. Maternal injuries can include anything from cervical, rectal, or vaginal tearing and bruising to uterine rupturing to bladder bruising, hemorrhaging, and more.
Causes of Shoulder Dystocia
There are many factors that increase the risk for shoulder dystocia. Many of these factors—such as obesity, gestational diabetes, small or abnormal pelvic structure, and exceptionally large or past-due infants—are not related to medical malpractice. However, when medical professionals fail to properly address these risk factors or shoulder dystocia during delivery, it can lead to preventable injuries.
All too often, shoulder dystocia occurs as a result of prolonged labor, or failure to order a timely C-section. It can also occur when forceps or vacuum extractors are used during assisted vaginal delivery. These factors can also contribute to worsened shoulder dystocia injuries in instances when shoulder dystocia was already present.
When to Seek Legal Representation
Any time a nurse, doctor, or medical facility deviates from the normal standard of care and a child or mother suffers injuries as a result, it is possible to pursue a medical malpractice claim. Medical professionals have a responsibility to provide a reasonable level of care for their patients. When they fail to do so, they should be held accountable for their negligence.
If you or your child were injured as a result of shoulder dystocia, financial compensation cannot negate the pain and suffering you and your family have been through. It can, however, assist with the cost of necessary medical treatment, both immediate and long-term. A birth injury lawsuit can also seek punitive damages meant to punish the negligent parties and ensure that other children and families are not similarly affected in the future.
To discuss your case with our New Hampshire shoulder dystocia attorneys, contact our office at (603) 323-4622 today. We offer contingent fees, meaning you don’t pay unless we successfully recover compensation on your behalf.