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Home > Cases We Handle > Birth Injuries > Shoulder Dystocia

Cleveland Shoulder Dystocia Lawyers

Shoulder dystocia happens when the fetus is either too big for the mother’s pelvis or positioned awkwardly in relation to the mother’s pelvis. This leads to a situation where the baby’s head is born, but one of the shoulders gets stuck.

Shoulder dystocia is a serious emergency requiring immediate intervention to free the shoulder and fully deliver the infant. If your doctor did not properly monitor you or your baby or acted negligently during delivery, they may be responsible for your child’s condition and resulting damages.

As Ohio birth injury lawyers at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, it’s our job to determine what caused your child’s birth injury and hold the responsible parties accountable.

Shoulder Dystocia Risk Factors

Shoulder dystocia can happen for many reasons and is often difficult to predict and prevent. However, certain risk factors can make it more likely, including:

  • Large fetus, typically more than 8 pounds 13 ounces at delivery
  • Maternal weight gain of more than 35 pounds during pregnancy
  • Maternal obesity
  • Being over 35 years old
  • Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus before or during pregnancy
  • Previous delivery complicated by a shoulder dystocia
  • Rapid or prolonged second stage of labor
  • Operative vaginal delivery
  • Delivering after 40 weeks gestation
  • Pregnant with two or more babies

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Having these risk factors usually means you need closer observation from doctors. If they overlook possible issues because of inadequate care, it could endanger both you and your baby, raising the risk of birth injuries such as shoulder dystocia.

Signs and Symptoms of Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia at birth can cause different problems and symptoms for a child. Since these symptoms can change as the child gets older, it’s crucial to monitor and assess them regularly for proper treatment.

  • At Birth: The baby might display difficulty with arm movements or weakness in the affected arm. There’s often an absence of the Moro reflex on the affected side.
  • Infancy: Reduced grip strength in the hand on the affected side is common. Partial or total paralysis of the arm may also be noticeable.
  • Early Childhood: The child may exhibit a waiter’s tip posture, where the arm is bent and held against the body. There could also be noticeable differences in arm length or muscle development compared to the unaffected arm.
  • Later Childhood: Difficulties with tasks requiring manual dexterity or arm strength become more apparent. Some children might experience sensory deficits in the affected arm, such as a reduced ability to feel touch or temperature changes.

How Your Provider’s Actions May Affect Child’s Condition

A healthcare provider’s actions during and immediately after the delivery can impact the outcome of a shoulder dystocia emergency. Prompt and appropriate responses, such as the following, can minimize the risk of complications such as Erb’s Palsy or oxygen deprivation.

  • Applying Specific Maneuvers: Doctors may use methods like the McRoberts maneuver to help the baby pass through the birth canal. This involves bending the mother’s legs toward her shoulders to open the pelvis more or gently pushing on the baby’s front shoulder.

If these techniques aren’t used correctly or quickly enough, there’s a risk that the healthcare provider might use too much force to deliver the baby. This can lead to nerve damage, including injuries to the brachial plexus, which might cause conditions like Erb’s Palsy.

  • Monitoring Fetal Stress: Watching for signs of fetal distress includes tracking the baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels while labor and delivery are underway. This vigilance helps healthcare providers quickly spot problems, enabling them to act quickly to avoid a lack of oxygen.

If a healthcare provider doesn’t properly monitor for signs of fetal stress or respond to distress signals, it can lead to the baby not getting enough oxygen. This lack of oxygen can cause severe, lasting health problems for the child, such as cerebral palsy or developmental delays.

  • Cesarean Section: If usual techniques can’t relieve shoulder dystocia, deciding on a cesarean section becomes critical. This surgery brings the baby out through the abdomen, avoiding problems like fetal distress and oxygen deficiency that come with dystocia.

Hesitating to go for a cesarean when it’s necessary, or not choosing one at all, can lead to preventable issues for both mom and baby, such as potential injuries to the newborn and a lack of enough oxygen.

Damages in Shoulder Dystocia Claims

If your child faces complications from shoulder dystocia, it can take a financial and emotional toll on your family. The need for ongoing rehabilitation, therapy, and possible surgeries can require substantial out-of-pocket costs.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our birth injury lawyers can help you seek damages from the provider responsible for your child’s injuries, compensating you for the following:

  • Medical Expenses: These include the cost of current and future medical needs, including hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and specialized equipment your child may require to support their recovery and daily life.
  • Rehabilitation Costs: These are the expenses related to ongoing rehabilitation efforts, which may include specialized physical therapy to improve mobility and strength in the affected arm and other therapies to improve functional abilities.
  • Loss of Income: This addresses the wages lost if you have to cut back on work hours or leave your job to look after your child. This also accounts for your child’s potential future earnings loss, based on how severe their condition is and how it might affect their future work capabilities.
  • Pain and Suffering: This is compensation for the physical pain and emotional suffering your child endures because of their injuries. This may also compensate for the emotional toll on your family, including the stress and anxiety the situation brings.
  • Lifelong Care and Support: If your child’s condition requires long-term or lifelong support, this includes costs associated with home care assistance, modifications to living spaces for accessibility, and educational support services needed to accommodate learning disabilities or developmental delays.

Facing a birth injury is daunting and terrifying, especially when it stems from a provider’s negligence, leading to heartbreaking outcomes. Let our seasoned attorneys at Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, with over 90 years of expertise in birth injury claims, fight for you. Our track record speaks volumes. We’ve secured substantial settlements for our clients, including an $8.5 million award for a Cuyahoga County family affected by a devastating birth injury. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to explore your legal options with us. Let’s get you the justice you deserve.