Shoulder dystocia occurs in approximately one out of eight births in Canada. An event during labour and delivery that is the result of a baby’s head being delivered and his or her shoulder getting stuck inside the mother’s birth canal, shoulder dystocia results in a slow and difficult labour that can cause serious birth injuries to infants. In most instances where shoulder dystocia is appropriately handles by healthcare providers, the baby and mother do not usually sustain any permanent injuries.
Conditions that May Result from Shoulder Dystocia
However, when healthcare providers responsible for labour and delivery do not react appropriately or quickly enough, shoulder dystocia has the potential to cause permanent and serious damage to the infant. Some of the injuries that a shoulder dystocia delivery can result in include:
- Cerebral palsy caused from low oxygen levels that lead to brain damage
- Brachial plexus caused by damage to the sensitive nerves in the infant’s neck
- Bone fractures due to force necessary to dislodge the shoulder
Risk Factors Associated with Shoulder Dystocia
While certain risk factors do alert healthcare providers to the chance of the occurrence of a shoulder dystocia delivery, healthcare providers cannot actually predict when the condition will develop nor prevent shoulder dystocia from happening. Some of the risk factors that have been known to contribute to the occurrence of shoulder dystocia during delivery include the following.
- A mother who has diabetes
- A very large baby
- Obesity of the mother
- Delivery of a baby after its due date
- Multiple babies to be born (i.e., twins, triplets, etc.)
- A history of shoulder dystocia deliveries by the mother
Once delivery and labour has begun, doctors don’t have a lot of options for preventing shoulder dystocia, but some procedures that have proved to be effective include everything from repositioning the baby or mother to allow passage of the baby using gentle pulling and pushing technique to breaking the mother’s pelvic bone or baby’s collar bone to performing an emergency caesarean section.
Medical negligence is established when the doctors and/or nurses responsible for a particular delivery fail to recognize signs of shoulder dystocia or fail to appropriately address the situation. Should healthcare personnel be found to be negligent after careful review of your medical records, you may have the option of suing them, the hospital, and others for damages.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Experienced in Medical Malpractice if your Baby Suffered Injury during a Shoulder Dystocia Delivery
If your baby has suffered injury during a shoulder dystocia delivery and you believe that those responsible for the delivery of your child acted negligently, contact a personal injury lawyer experienced in medical malpractice for a consultation. While you cannot reverse the damage your baby suffered as a result of the negligence, you may be able to gain financial assistance in dealing with the situation and hold the doctors, nurses, hospital and others accountable for their actions.