Medical malpractice claims arising from shoulder dystocia often arise when medical professionals breach their standard of care during birth delivery. During the delivery process, the infant’s shoulder can get caught behind the mother’s pubic bone. Shoulder dystocia can occur when there is difficulty immediately delivering the anterior shoulder of the infant.
Shoulder Dystocia Injury
Shoulder dystocia can cause severe and lasting injuries to an infant. The most common type of fetal injuries following shoulder dystocia include damage to the brachial plexus nerves, fractured humeri, birth asphyxia, fractured clavicles, contusions, and lacerations. Studies have shown that 20% of babies will suffer some sort of injury after shoulder dystocia deliveries.
Shoulder Dystocia Statistics
Some studies have shown that only 25% - 50% of all shoulder dystocias are recorded by the delivering physician. As a result, there have been scattered reports of the incidence of shoulder dystocia listing values between 0.5% and 1.5% of all deliveries. In studies involving the largest number of deliveries, the rate of shoulder dystocia in a general population was found to be 0.5% - 0.6%. Women who have a shoulder dystocia in a previous delivery are found to be more likely to have one again in a subsequent delivery as it appears that the risk increases to 10% - 15%. In general, this complication is more likely to occur with the delivery of larger infants. Shoulder dystocia deliveries occur sporadically and very rarely and therefore medical professionals do not know when they will encounter this complication.
The Medical Profession Standard of Care
Doctors are trained to take very specific steps in order to avoid injury to both the child and the mother. These medical professionals are required to be aware of the risks of shoulder dystocia and are trained to know how to respond to resolve this medical emergency. Often times, medical professionals don’t exercise the proper procedures and breach the reasonable standard of care established within the medical profession, resulting in shoulder dystocia and other types of injury. When these professionals are not aware of the risks of shoulder dystocia, they can be held legally liable for medical malpractice.
Medical professionals are trained to recognize factors that increase the risk of shoulder dystocia and to take steps to remedy the problem. The risk of shoulder dystocia is increased when infants are large and when the mother is overweight. The most common remedy for these situations is a Csection delivery. Therefore, dystocia injuries are generally avoidable if medical professionals take reasonable steps to identify and void the problem. If these professionals do not take these steps and you or a loved one has been injured as a result, you have the right to be justly compensated.
Our experienced attorneys can help you gather evidence to support your claim. This evidence will be used to determine what type of compensation, if any, you may be able to recover. Our goal is to maximize the compensation for your child’s injuries so that he or she has access to the best care, which will need to be provided in the future to cope with the effects of this injury. The factors that will weigh on the amount of compensation include past, present and future medical expenses, loss of earning potential, pain and suffering, and future psychological counseling. Mark Kaire and David Heffernan are ready to help you understand your rights and answer your questions regarding shoulder dystocia.