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Miami Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Birth Injuries > Nightmare in the Delivery Room – Understanding Shoulder Dystocia

Nightmare in the Delivery Room – Understanding Shoulder Dystocia


The birth of a child should be a joyous event filled with fond memories and the recognition that a new life has been brought into this world. Unfortunately, not all births are joyous. Many are quite traumatic and can have permanent damaging effects on the newborn child. A prime example is shoulder dystocia. This is a complication that can occur during vaginal deliveries. The crown of the head begins to proceed out of the vaginal cavity, but the shoulders of the child get caught behind the mother’s pubic bone and cause this medical condition.

Approximately twenty percent of babies suffer a shoulder dystocia injury and that injury could be temporary or permanent. The injuries that occur the most frequently in these births include damage to the child’s brachial plexus nerves, fractured clavicles, fractured humeri, or birth asphyxia.

Fortunately, shoulder dystocia is reportedly rare. Generally, between 0.5 percent and 1.5 percent of all births report a shoulder dystocia incident, according to Health Research Funding.org. Risk factors for shoulder dystocia you need to be aware of include:

  • The mother gained 35 pounds or more during the pregnancy
  • Baby has a larger-than-normal head (aka fetal macrosomia)
  • History of shoulder dystocia in a previous vaginal delivery
  • The mother has diabetes
  • The mother is obese

Shoulder Dystocia Injuries Can Have Lifelong Effects

A shoulder dystocia injury can affect the quality of life for your child years into the future. Brachial plexus injuries are the most common form of shoulder dystocia. The two kinds of brachial plexus injuries are Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s palsy. Erb’s palsy impacts your child’s upper arm muscles and causes abnormal placement of the scapula. This is a condition that could affect the mobility of your child and may require persistent medical care or corrective surgery.

Legal Options Available to the Family

If your child was seriously injured during birth, it is possible that the obstetrician was negligent in permitting the occurrence of shoulder dystocia or in not properly resolving the condition when the discovered it during the birth. If there is evidence of negligence, it may be possible to pursue a birth injury medical malpractice lawsuit. It is important to sit down and talk with an experienced Miami medical malpractice attorney because the laws surrounding malpractice suits are quite complex in Florida.

The Medical Profession Standard of Care

Doctors are trained to take specific steps in order to avoid injury to both the child and the mother during a birth. They are trained to recognize factors that increase the risk of shoulder dystocia, which is why it is generally accepted that shoulder dystocia injuries are generally avoidable if a doctor takes reasonable steps to identify the issue and implement preventative measures. If they fail to take these steps, it could be considered a breach of the standard of care.

This is important because, in order to establish medical malpractice and recover compensation for your child’s shoulder dystocia injury, you will need to prove each of these legal elements – (i) there was an accepted standard of care in connection with shoulder dystocia, (ii) your doctor breached the standard of care, (iii) proximate causation, and (iv) actual damages.

Speak to an Experienced Miami Shoulder Dystocia Lawyer Today

As you can see, there are numerous legal hurdles that must be overcome to receive compensation for your child’s injuries. Alan Goldfarb, P.A., is here to help. We provide a free, confidential consultation to anyone with a shoulder dystocia claim. Contact us or call us at 305-371-3111 (toll free at 866-936-9761) to schedule an appointment.



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