Shoulder Dystocia is an obstetric emergency associated with the potential to injure both mother and child. It occurs when the baby’s anterior shoulder becomes trapped behind the mother’s pubic bone and the baby cannot come out of the birth canal. It is diagnosed when the infant’s head delivers but the shoulders and body fail to follow. Even the slightest traction on the baby’s head can cause injury to the brachial plexus, which is the bundle nerves that controls the arm. This nerve injury to a baby’s arm is called Erb’s Palsy and can vary in severity from slight stretching of the nerves causing weakness to rupture of the nerves causing complete arm paralysis. If the obstetrician recognizes the risk factors prior to the commencement of labor and/or properly manages the delivery when Shoulder Dystocia occurs, injury is avoided.
These risk factors for Shoulder Dystocia include: a previous delivery of a baby weighing over 4000 grams; a history of prior child who had Shoulder Dystocia; maternal and/or gestational diabetes; Estimated Fetal Weight (EFW) over 4,000 grams (macrosomia); maternal obesity; gestational age over 41 weeks; and a second stage of labor that lasts for more than two hours. An obstetrician can identify those patients at risk by taking a careful history from the mother about prior deliveries and birth weights, by performing ultrasound evaluation on all patients at risk for macrosomia to estimate fetal weight, and by testing for gestational diabetes with a glucose tolerance test.
The way obstetricians can prevent injury to patients at risk for Shoulder Dystocia are to (1) perform a prophylactic cesarean section for non-diabetic mothers whose fetuses have an EFW over 4500 grams and to perform a prophylactic cesarean section for diabetic mothers whose fetuses have an EFW over 4000 grams, and (2) follow a structured and practiced “plan or drill” for the management of Shoulder Dystocia if it occurs unexpectedly during delivery. The most important factor in the initial management of Shoulder Dystocia is for the operator to immediately remove his or her hands from the fetal head as soon as the diagnosis is made and to not pull on the fetal head and neck until the baby’s shoulder is unstuck and freely able to exit and deliver vaginally. There are approximately sixteen different obstetrical maneuvers that can free the anterior shoulder so the baby can be safely delivered. Proper use of these maneuvers can prevent the traction on the fetal head that injures the brachial plexus and causes Erb’s Palsy.
Doctors can negligently cause an Erb’s Palsy injury by failing to perform appropriate prenatal testing to identify patients at risk for shoulder Dystocia thereby avoiding a vaginal delivery or, when it occurs during birth, by failing to utilize appropriate maneuvers to dislodge the anterior shoulder before continuing the vaginal delivery. It is the excessive traction to the baby’s head and neck by the obstetrician that causes the injury to the brachial plexus.
To discuss your suspected medical malpractice birth injury contact a New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer at The Law Offices of Andres & Berger, P.C., for a free consultation.
The Law Offices of Andres & Berger, P.C. are located in South Jersey but because of our outstanding reputation we commonly represent clients throughout the entire state of New Jersey including nut not limited to Camden County, Burlington County, Gloucester County, Atlantic County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Salem County, Mercer County, Ocean County, Monmouth County, Cherry Hill, Voorhees, Haddonfield, Marlton, Medford, Mt. Holly, Moorestown, Woodbury, Williamstown, Pennsauken, Atlantic City, Wildwood, Hammonton, Vineland, Berlin, Atco, Collingswood, Turnersvile, Glassboro, Washington Township, and Camden.
Andres & Berger wrote
New Jersey Injury and Malpractice
Law - A Reference for Accident and
to assist anyone involved in a
serious accident or who has been
injured as the result of medical
Contact Andres & Berger to recieve a
complimentary copy or:
Personal Injury Attorneys Fight
for Maximum Damages for
Victims Injured in Catastrophic
Accidents in Camden County,
Burlington County and
throughout New Jersey
If you or a loved one is suffering from injuries
or a wrongful death sustained in any catastrophic
accident anywhere in New Jersey including Medford,
Maple Shade or Evesham, contact the
office immediately for a FREE consultation.
Our personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers
specialize in representing clients injured in:
Including anesthesia errors, birth injuries,
delayed or wrong diagnosis, prescription errors, surgical mistakes, and more.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Including collisions involving cars,
trucks, motorcycles, buses
and pedestrians, etc.
Nursing Home Abuse
Including bed sores and ulcers, falls and fractures, hazardous and unsanitary conditions, wandering and elopement, etc. and unsanitary conditions, wandering and elopement, etc.
Other Personal Injuries
Caused by slip and fall accidents, dog bites,
product liability mishaps
Meet with a Knowledgeable, Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer at Andres & Berger, for Free, about Your Accident and Serious Injuries
Contact the highly successful lawyers at Andres & Berger, P.C. today about your accident. We hold negligent people responsible for the injuries, pain and suffering their careless mistakes and negligence caused others in Mt. Laurel, Pemberton, Moorestown and throughout South Jersey.
We take all personal injury and medical malpractice cases on contingency. There are no upfront costs to any of our clients; Andres & Berger takes on all the financial risk. You don’t pay us unless we collect damages on your behalf. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation and find out how our savvy personal injury lawyers will fight for your family.
* Indicates a required field