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Is There a Link Between Shoulder Dystocia and Medical Negligence?

Even a cursory look at representative literature concerning birth injuries reveals that many things can go wrong prior to, during and immediately following a baby’s delivery.

Indeed, the types of birth injuries that can occur span a wide spectrum, ranging from cerebral, Erb’s and brachial plexus palsy to fractured bones, paralysis and spinal cord injuries.

Shoulder dystocia is yet another type of birth injury that can happen during labor, with various studies indicating that it occurs in about two percent of all births.

Although that might seem to be a relatively small number of cases, it equates to an unquestionably high number in the aggregate.

Notwithstanding that shoulder dystocia can occur during birth in the absence of medical error, its ultimate outcome is often materially connected to the manner in which medical personnel detect and respond to it.

As noted on a global pregnancy and parenting website discussing shoulder dystocia, the effectiveness — or, tragically, the lack thereof — of delivery teams reacting to shoulder dystocia once it has been identified during the birth process can greatly affect the future health of a newborn.

In summary terms, shoulder dystocia occurs when a baby’s shoulder becomes stuck behind a mother’s pubic bone during delivery. The above-cited overview of this birth complication notes that, when this happens, it is imperative that a delivery team “quickly takes the right action.”

Anticipating that shoulder dystocia might occur during delivery is often critically important, given that well-trained staff and appropriate equipment will then be on hand for potential use during delivery.

There are signs that a newborn could be at heightened risk for shoulder dystocia, and ignoring them could signal medical negligence. Risk is increased when a mother and/or her baby are comparatively large or overweight; when a mother has gestational diabetes; when labor is induced; when forceps are used during delivery; and when shoulder dystocia has featured in a prior delivery.

Questions or concerns regarding shoulder dystocia during labor can be answered by an experienced medical malpractice attorney, who can also provide diligent representation in any case involving medical negligence that contributed to a birth injury.