Shoulder Dystocia is a complication that can present itself in the delivery room. If shoulder dystocia occurs during delivery, there are a number of maneuvers that can and should be used in order to deliver the baby without injury.
In the absence of a proper response by the obstetrician or nurse midwife to relieve the shoulder dystocia, it is well known that injury to the newborn can result. These injuries include injury to the baby’s brachial plexus or the bundle of nerves leading from the spinal cord through the shoulders down the arm all the way to the hand. The brachial plexus injury can range in severity from an injury to the upper plexus (C5 and/or C6) to an injury that effects more of the nerves of the plexus (C5 to T1). The early signs of a brachial plexus injury include lack of movement of the arm or hand. There can also be paralysis of the baby’s diaphragm. The more severe the injury, the more likely that surgical intervention will be required. These injuries are permanent and severe.
It is also well known that other injuries, including cerebral palsy from a lack of oxygen and even death can occur without appropriate intervention by the delivery obstetrician or midwife who has not recognized the warning signs or risks factors for a shoulder dystocia.
It is well known that cerebral palsy is caused by a lack of oxygen to the baby during or prior to the delivery. The physician and nurses responsible for the delivery are trained to monitor the baby’s fetal heart pattern and watch for any signs of fetal distress or oxygenation issues with the baby that can lead to brain damage or death.
The most common outcome of a failure to promptly deliver a fetus whose fetal heart pattern is abnormal and concerning for oxygenation deprivation is cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a devastating injury. The term cerebral palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that permanently affect body movement, muscle coordination, blindness or impaired vision, bowel and bladder control, and balance. Early effects to the baby who has suffered this serious insult include seizure and kidney failure. It is often the case that parents are not informed, or provided with misinformation, as to why an injury has occurred to their baby. It is essential that parents understand that the injury to their child is not their fault.
Kenneth M. Levine can provide you with the information you need to advocate on behalf of your child. Parents can obtain compensation for their child’s injury. Parents should be aware that there are time limits within each state for filing claims and that it is never too early to get started.