Shoulder Dystocia Attorneys in Washington

Shoulder dystocia is one of the most difficult and worrisome emergencies that can occur during the delivery of a child. This condition occurs when the doctor or midwife must take immediate action to manipulate the baby in such a way as to allow its shoulders to pass by the mother’s pelvic bone or opening to the birth canal.

One of the primary risks involved in manipulating the baby is that the brachial plexus can be damaged. The brachial plexus is a nerve bundle that controls motor function to the arm. This nerve injury to a baby’s arm is also called Erb’s Palsy.

If you believe that your child has developed shoulder dystocia due to a doctor’s poor decision, contact a Washington Erb’s Palsy attorney by calling Fuller & Fuller at 800-570-4878.

Causes of Shoulder Dystocia

The likelihood of shoulder dystocia occurring during delivery varies based on several factors. Birth weight is one of the most significant factors. The probability of shoulder dystocia is quite low for babies weighing 5 ½ to 8 ½ pounds. This probability is much higher for babies weighing over 8 ½ pounds.

Other factors that can contribute to the occurrence of shoulder dystocia include:

  • Improper manipulations of the baby in attempting to extract it from the birth canal;
  • A small or abnormally shaped pelvis in the mother;
  • Delivery after the anticipated due date;
  • Shoulder dystocia or high birth weight in the mother’s previous children;
  • The short stature of the mother;
  • The use of vacuum or forceps for delivery;
  • Gestational diabetes in the mother.

How Can Shoulder Dystocia be Prevented?

If high birth weight or other risk for shoulder dystocia is suspected, an ultrasound scan can be performed prior to the onset of labor. The ultrasound scan will help to determine the size of the baby and whether the baby’s size might create problems during delivery.

If it is clear prior to labor that there is a high risk of shoulder dystocia, a cesarean section can be planned, or the doctor may call for a C-section during labor if it is indicated.

The health care provider may also perform one or more procedures to allow delivery of the baby without a C-section. Those procedures include episiotomy and/or direct manipulation of the baby or the use of forceps. Unfortunately, unless the manipulations or use of forceps are done correctly, they can actually damage the infant’s brachial plexus.

How Can Shoulder Dystocia Affect a Baby?

Possible complications for the baby include:

  • injury to the nerves in the arm and hand, possibly leading to the arm being paralyzed temporarily or permanently;
  • breaking of the arm or collarbone during birth;
  • atrophy of the damaged arm as the child grows;
  • future surgery or surgeries to correct injuries;
  • long-term physical therapy or other medical treatment.

Medical providers caring for the pregnant mother and baby are responsible for providing appropriate care during the pregnancy, birthing process, and immediately after the delivery of the child. Failing to do so can result in the doctors and nurses being held accountable for the negative consequences of the pregnancy. Inadequate and substandard medical care may include:

  • Failing to recognize that the baby has a high birth weight;
  • Failing to order or perform a C-section when necessary;
  • Failing to recognize or properly respond to fetal distress;
  • Allowing the pregnancy to go past 41 weeks without proper testing, or 42 weeks for any reason;
  • Failing to properly use a vacuum extractor or forceps.

What should I do if I suspect there was malpractice associated with my child’s shoulder dystocia?

If you have concerns or doubts about whether a doctor caused, or did not properly prevent, your child’s shoulder dystocia or Erb’s palsy – or that of a loved one – you owe it to your child and your family to find out for sure. Contact an experienced Washington birth injury attorney at Fuller & Fuller for a FREE consultation.

To determine whether you have a strong claim, these are among the factors that are analyzed.

  • Whether the malpractice took place within the time allowed to bring a claim, or whether it is barred by the statute of limitations;
  • Whether the doctor’s actions were reasonable by the standards of the medical community in which the doctor practices;
  • Whether the doctor failed to perform appropriate testing such as an ultrasound, to allow an informed diagnosis of the problem;
  • Whether the doctor failed to administer the necessary medical or surgical procedures;
  • How much money in damages would be appropriate to compensate the child and the family.

Contact Us

If your child is suffering from the effects of shoulder dystocia or Erb’s Palsy, you may have a case against the healthcare professional or medical institution responsible for delivering your child. For more information on your legal rights and options, contact the Washington shoulder dystocia lawyers of Fuller & Fuller by calling 800-570-4878.

Shoulder Dystocia and Erb’s Palsy Resources

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