Shoulder Dystocia


Shoulder Dystocia

Birth Injury Attorneys Serving Families in Boston and Massachusetts

There are a variety of conditions and complications that can develop during the birth process. Some of these conditions result from natural events, while others result from the failure of attending health care professionals to use appropriate care. A common example of a medical condition that can arise during delivery is shoulder dystocia. This rare but serious condition happens when one or both of an infant’s shoulders become stuck during the delivery process. In most cases, they become stuck in the pelvis. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston shoulder dystocia lawyers have handled many birth injury cases. We are standing by to help your family assert your rights.

Understanding the Dangers and Causes of Shoulder Dystocia

Sometimes the injuries that result from shoulder dystocia resolve after several months without leaving any long-term symptoms or damage. In other instances, they can cause permanent disabilities and even death.

Shoulder dystocia largely relates to the width of the infant’s shoulders as they pass through the mother’s pelvis during the delivery process. If the baby has wide shoulders, or if the shoulders are positioned in a difficult manner, the baby may become stuck in the pelvis. The pressure of the mother’s body attempting to push the baby out of the birth canal can cause the baby to suffer shoulder injuries. Injuries can also occur during the delivery when a physician or nurse midwife exerts excess traction on the baby’s head. The injuries that the baby can experience include a broken arm or collarbone, nerve damage to the head, shoulder, arm, or hand, and a lack of oxygen. If the baby experiences a lack of oxygen for several minutes, they may suffer cognitive injuries as a result. In extreme situations, the baby may develop Erb’s palsy, which is a nerve injury that affects the shoulder, neck, and arm. It can cause serious harm to the child and can result in a permanent disability. Surgery may also be necessary to address the issue.

A mother can also suffer consequences during a birth that involves shoulder dystocia. A few examples include uterine rupture from excessive pushing, bruising of the bladder, hemorrhaging, and tearing or bruising of the vagina, rectum, or cervix.

In Massachusetts, there is a clear standard of care that medical professionals must follow when treating patients, including mothers and babies during the birth process. A shoulder dystocia attorney can help Boston families hold a health care provider accountable for violating the standard of care. The standard requires medical professionals to use the same generally accepted procedures and practices that other doctors with similar training and specializations would use when treating a patient presenting with similar demographics and conditions. After showing that the defendant failed to act according to the generally accepted standard of care, the plaintiff and their attorney must show that this malpractice was the cause of the injuries. Expert testimony is required to demonstrate the negligence of the doctor and the fact that it was negligence that caused the injury.

There are many factors that can alert a physician to the possibility or existence of shoulder dystocia. For example, if the mother is overweight, is carrying multiple children, or has a history of shoulder dystocia, the doctor should be alert for any signs that the dystocia is starting to occur. Exceptionally large fetuses and babies who are past their due dates are also indications that dystocia is possible. Dystocia can also develop during prolonged and difficult labor.

The plaintiff will also be required to submit evidence substantiating the amount of compensation that they are seeking in the lawsuit. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and diminished quality of life when permanent injuries are involved.

Seek Counsel from a Knowledgeable Shoulder Dystocia Lawyer in Boston or Beyond

If your baby or you experienced a birth injury, and you believe that malpractice was involved, it is critical that you speak to a seasoned medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we have handled a wide range of birth injury cases, including claims involving shoulder dystocia as well as brachial plexus injuries and other conditions. We serve families in Boston, Cambridge, Waltham, Lowell, Newton, Somerville, Quincy, Dedham, Norwood, Brookline, Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Plymouth, Worcester, Lawrence, and Springfield. Having seen how traumatic and stressful an injury during the childbirth process can be, we will ensure that you receive the responsive and compassionate legal guidance that you deserve. To schedule a free consultation with a Boston shoulder dystocia attorney, call us now at 1-800-379-1244 or contact us online.