A baby can die from shoulder dystocia within minutes if the doctor and other medical care providers are not able to free them and ensure they are breathing properly. Shoulder dystocia is a complication that occurs during delivery. The baby becomes lodged in the birth canal. The head delivers, but the infant’s shoulders are stuck.
Because of the risk to the baby, especially if the umbilical cord is involved and compressed, this is a serious medical emergency. The baby may not be able to breathe and may need to be delivered as quickly as possible.
Within minutes of the child’s head delivering, the baby can begin to develop a lasting brain injury or even pass away. In some cases, a C-section or other life-saving action is necessary.
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Risks Associated With Shoulder Dystocia
In many cases, babies who have shoulder dystocia do not experience long-term or permanent injuries as a result. The doctor is able to free them quickly, using special positions and techniques.
Some of the most common injuries that occur as a result of shoulder dystocia are brachial plexus palsies, such as Erb’s palsy. Babies with shoulder dystocia receive a diagnosis of one of these injuries between 4 and 15 percent of the time, according to American Family Physician. Most of these babies fully recover before their first birthday, with about 10 percent suffering lasting injuries.
Much more serious complications can occur, as well. When the baby’s head delivers and the shoulder becomes stuck, the baby may be at risk or brain injuries such as cerebral palsy and other catastrophic injuries. This could include hypoxemia, brain injury, and death.
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Treating Shoulder Dystocia
Once a doctor recognizes that the baby is stuck in the birth canal, they usually must take steps to free the baby and deliver them as soon as possible. A baby can suffer injuries from shoulder dystocia within minutes if the doctor cannot restore proper oxygenation.
Often the first option tried to free a baby is the McRobert’s maneuver. This requires medical staff to lift the mother’s knees toward her chest and apply pressure suprapubicly. This may allow the baby’s shoulder to slip free, and the baby can be safely delivered.
If this is not effective, however, there are other special maneuvers they may try. This may include:
- Jacquemier maneuver
- Letellier maneuver
If none of these actions are effective at freeing the baby, or if time is running out, doctors may push the baby back through the birth canal and perform an emergency C-section.
Shoulder Dystocia and Medical Malpractice
If your baby suffered injuries or passed away because of complications related to shoulder dystocia, you may be able to build a case to hold the doctor or hospital responsible. There are many ways that medical negligence can play a role in these injuries. This could include:
- Failure to adequately consider the known risk factors
- Failure to recognize shoulder dystocia
- Improper use of a specific maneuver
- Failure to respond adequately to the emergency
- Failure to diagnose or treat your child’s related condition
While not every case of shoulder dystocia will support legal action, some may. Discussing your case with a law firm that handles birth injury medical malpractice cases can help you understand your legal options. If you work with a lawyer on your case, they may also be able to help you by:
- Assigning liability
- Gathering evidence
- Enlisting the help of an expert witness or witnesses
- Navigating the claims process
- Meeting the necessary deadlines in your state
- Negotiating a settlement, if possible
- Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit on your behalf
You may be able to recover damages for your child’s medical care, as well as future and ongoing care and support, if necessary. You may also be able to seek out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering losses, and more.
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Speak to a Member of the Team From the Birth Injury Lawyers Group
By reaching out to the Birth Injury Lawyers Group to talk to a member of our team, you can get help today. We represent families in medical malpractice lawsuits nationwide and can review your child’s injury case at no cost to your family. If we think your case is strong enough to take legal action, we can represent you on a contingency-fee basis where you will only pay attorney’s fees if and when you receive a settlement offer or financial award in court.
Call (800) 222-9529 now to learn about your shoulder dystocia birth injury case.