Birth injuries occur all too often in the U.S. due to doctor or hospital staff medical malpractice. One of the more common types of medical malpractice during birth is caused when the baby suffers from shoulder dystocia.
Shoulder dystocia occurs when one of the infant’s shoulders becomes wedged in the mother’s pubic bone during delivery. Dystocia is a common complication that arises during vaginal births, however it is the way in which the doctor or OB/GYN handles the situation that is critical to the health and safety of the baby. And failure to do this properly is where medical malpractice cases arise.
First, it is crucial that the attending physician properly assess and diagnose the dystocia. Obviously if it is never diagnosed, it cannot be treated and can inevitably result in injury to the child.
Once it is determined that the baby is suffering from shoulder dystocia, the doctor or OB/GYN must take appropriate measures to help avoid possible injury. There are several different procedures that can be performed to address the dystocia and dislodge the baby’s shoulder, including possible cesarean section, but it must be determined which will be most effective and measures must be taken in a timely manner.
The issue arises when the shoulder dystocia is either not diagnosed, or is not treated appropriately. Babies who suffer from this complication suffer from damage to the upper brachial plexus nerves, which supply the sensory and motor components of the shoulder, arm and hands. Shoulder dystocia that goes without medical intervention can even cause harm or death to the mother.
Common injuries resulting from untreated shoulder dystocia include:
- Klumpke paralysis, which is paralysis of the muscles of the forearm and hand
- Erb’s Palsy, a paralysis of the arm caused by injury to the upper group of the arm’s main nerves
- Fetal hypoxia
- Fetal death
- Cerebral palsy
- Maternal post partum hemorrhage
Although some injuries can improve on their own over time, others are much more serious and may result in a lifetime of therapy and medical treatments, not to mention pain and suffering of the child and his family.
Birth injuries can be considered one of the most devastating kinds of medical malpractice. Anyone who has fallen victim to this type of negligence should consult a trained medical malpractice attorney immediately.