While the U.S. is considered to have an advanced healthcare system, birth injury statistics reflect that far too many babies are injured before, during, or shortly after their births. For example, for every 1,000 babies born alive in the U.S. each year, six babies incur birth trauma injuries. While there are instances where no healthcare provider could have prevented a birth-related injury to an infant, birth injuries due to medical malpractice are more common than most people realize. Negligence on the part of doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, anesthesiologists and other medical professionals can result in severe complications and is even more upsetting when it could have been avoided.
Shoulder dystocia is one such complication that, if not diagnosed quickly, can result in serious harm and permanent injury. It is a preventable childbirth impediment that occurs when a baby’s shoulders become stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone during delivery. This risk of shoulder dystocia increases if:
- The mother’s pelvis is small
- The mother has gestational diabetes
- The baby is large
- The baby is not in the best position for delivery
- The labor is induced
- Shoulder dystocia occurred in a previous labor
- The birth has to be assisted with a vacuum or forceps.
When a baby’s shoulder gets stuck, expert medical attention can help ensure that no injury is incurred by the baby or the mother. When handled in a quick, calm way, performing an emergency Caesarean section or implementing the various approved maneuvers to get the infant into the proper position can make all the difference. However, it doesn’t take much for this to be mismanaged and result in long-term medical complications.
The major concern of shoulder dystocia is damage to the upper brachial plexus nerves, which supply the sensory and motor components of the shoulder, arm and hands. This type of brachial plexus injury often results in Erb’s palsy (also called Klumpke’s palsy or Brachial plexus palsy). Other possible dystocia-related injuries to the child include brain damage, broken bones and lacerations, while the mother can experience hemorrhaging, lacerations and uterine rupture.
If it isn’t and this professional negligence causes your child to be injured, you may be able to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice. Healthcare providers that fail to meet the legal standard of reasonable care can be held financially accountable for the damages that their behavior caused. Of course, it can be difficult to determine whether a birth injury is the result of medical error or simply an unfortunate outcome that could not have been avoided. Thus, it is wise to consult an attorney who is knowledgeable about the highly technical, specialized field of medical malpractice law.
Common questions that a medical negligence attorney will ask if shoulder dystocia is suspected as the reason for a child’s injury include:
- Did you have any risk factors associated with shoulder dystocia?
- Did your doctor fail to recognize these risk factors?
- Did any healthcare provider fail to properly monitor your labor and delivery?
- Did your doctor fail to diagnose shoulder dystocia quickly?
- Did your doctor use forceps or a vacuum improperly or with excessive force?
- Did your doctor fail to order an emergency C-section?
- Did your doctor or midwife perform a delivery maneuver incorrectly?
If your child has suffered a birth injury, it may have been the result of medical negligence. Although financial compensation cannot make up for the damage that has been done, it can help pay for the expensive and lengthy medical care that the injured baby will likely need. It can also help with other costs incurred in giving the injured child as healthy and productive a future as possible.
Given the complexity of these cases, it is important to contact an attorney if you believe your newborn’s injury could have been prevented. For more than 50 years, the Middle Georgia shoulder dystocia lawyers of the Mann Law Firm have helped the families of injured infants throughout the state. You can rely on our experience with the legal system and our commitment to our clients to help you get the best result possible under the circumstances of your case. To learn how we can help you, call us today at (478) 742-3381 or fill out this online form. We are proud to offer free initial case evaluations.
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