Florida Shoulder Dystocia Birth Injury Malpractice Attorneys
Shoulder dystocia is a medical emergency that occurs when a baby’s shoulder gets stuck on the mother’s pubic bone during delivery. This high-risk situation occurs in up to 3% of all births and has the potential to cause serious complications. If not diagnosed accurately and managed within minutes by an experienced obstetrician or other health care provider, it can result in permanent injuries, including brachial plexus palsies, cerebral palsy and brain damage.
If your child was injured due to shoulder dystocia during the birth process and you suspect negligent health care was involved, it is important to understand what occurred, as well as the challenges your family faces and what you can do to handle those challenges. It is also important to hold the negligent obstetrician and/or other healthcare providers legally accountable for their negligence.
The Florida medical malpractice attorneys of Paul Knopf Bigger can help answer your questions and handle some of the challenges you might face. We will help you understand your legal rights and how to achieve justice and substantial compensation for your child’s medical expenses, care, pain, suffering and other damages with a Florida medical malpractice claim. We are experienced Florida medical malpractice attorneys committed to obtaining justice for victims of preventable birth injuries and want to help you get the compensation you deserve.
What Problems Does Shoulder Dystocia Cause?
If shoulder dystocia is identified and managed quickly during delivery, most babies and mothers do not suffer serious injuries. If, however, the delivery is mismanaged or prolonged, problems for the baby and the mother can occur.
Problems for the baby include:
- Fractures to the collarbone and arm – These injuries occur in approximately 10.5% of shoulder dystocia cases and usually heal without causing permanent damage.
- Damage to the brachial plexus nerves – This network of nerves connects the spinal cord in the neck to the arms, shoulders and hands so the brain can transmit messages that allow us to move our hands and arms. When a shoulder dystocia injury occurs, the brachial plexus nerves are compressed, often resulting in permanent nerve damage – weakness, loss of muscle control, partial or total loss of feeling or paralysis of the arm, wrist and hand.
- Hypoxic ischemic brain injury – This type of injury occurs in 0.5 – 23% of shoulder dystocia cases and is very dangerous. If the baby is trapped in the birth canal for more than five minutes, serious brain damage due to lack of oxygen could occur.
Problems for the mother include:
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Vaginal lacerations
- Anal tears
- Uterine rupture
- Psychological stress
What Are the Risk Factors for Shoulder Dystocia?
Although it can be hard for health care providers to predict shoulder dystocia, they should be aware of known risk factors and prepare for the safe delivery of the baby. These risk factors include:
- A previous shoulder dystocia during delivery
- Maternal diabetes (preexisting or gestational)
- Maternal obesity
- Flat or contracted maternal pelvis
- An overdue baby
- Fetal macrosomia (when the baby is very large)
- Twins or other multiple births
How Is Shoulder Dystocia Treated?
If one or more of the risk factors for shoulder dystocia are present, your doctor or other health care provider should be prepared for a complicated delivery. If your doctor thinks your baby is large or if you have diabetes, scheduling a C-section may be the safest option. In other cases, your obstetrician and the labor and delivery team should be prepared to quickly and adeptly try different strategies to deliver the baby safely.
Doctors typically try to reposition the mother or the baby using gentle pulling or pushing maneuvers to dislodge the baby’s shoulder. If these gentle maneuvers do not work, other more serious procedures may be considered, including cutting a very deep episiotomy, breaking the mother’s pelvis or the baby’s collarbone, or doing an abdominal rescue procedure that combines vaginal delivery with an emergency C-section to manually remove the baby’s shoulder from behind the mother’s pelvic bone.
In all cases of shoulder dystocia it is important for the health care providers involved in the baby’s delivery to take decisive action quickly and appropriately. Any delays or inappropriate maneuvers can cause permanent damage to the baby.
When Are Shoulder Dystocia Birth Injuries Considered Medical Malpractice?
When health care providers fail to employ appropriate techniques for dealing with shoulder dystocia in a timely manner, the problem can result in injury to both the baby and the mother. If the doctor or other health care providers do not monitor the mother and baby closely during labor and delivery or respond quickly and appropriately to complications that occur during the delivery, they could be considered negligent in carrying out the duty owed to their patients.
Medical negligence related to shoulder dystocia can occur in many different ways during pregnancy, labor and delivery, including:
- Failure to provide appropriate interventions during labor and delivery
- Failure to diagnose macrosomic (large) baby
- Failure to properly manage prolonged or post-term pregnancy
- Failure to treat maternal preeclampsia
- Failure to notice or respond appropriately to signs of fetal distress
- Failure to perform a timely C-section to remove a baby in distress
- Failure to successfully resuscitate and intubate a newborn
Initiating a Florida Medical Malpractice Claim for a Shoulder Dystocia Birth Injury
If medical negligence related to shoulder dystocia injured your child, you should consult with an experienced Florida birth injury attorney to discuss how you can hold the negligent health care provider(s) accountable and get compensated for the damages you and your child have suffered. The medical malpractice that led to your child’s injury may appear straightforward to you; however, medical malpractice cases can be very complicated. Involving an experienced, skilled birth injury attorney in the case as soon as possible is in your best interest.
Before initiating a Florida claim for medical malpractice, your attorney will ensure that you can demonstrate the four elements of medical malpractice:
- Duty – The negligent doctor or other healthcare providers had a duty to provide the same quality of care other reasonably prudent practitioners practicing in the same specialty area would have provided in similar circumstances.
- Breach – The health care provider(s) fell short of or breached the duty to provide the standard quality of care.
- Cause – The doctor or other healthcare providers’ negligence in breaching their duty caused harm to your child.
- Damages – The harm your child suffered because of medical negligence caused damages. These damages can be economic, as in previous, current and future medical expenses, and non-economic, as in pain, suffering and diminished capacity to enjoy life.
If you can demonstrate these four elements, you may be able to take legal action to obtain substantial compensation for the damages recoverable under Florida law.
What Compensation Can Victims of Shoulder Dystocia Birth Injuries Receive?
Under Florida law, you and your child may be entitled to recover economic and non-economic compensatory damages for:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Diminished earning capacity
- Medical expenses – including past, current and future expenses
- Rehabilitation, therapy and care costs
- Other damages that are unique to your situation and recoverable under Florida law.
Demonstrating that health care providers’ negligence caused your child’s injury and you and your child suffered damages as a result of the injury is a long, complicated legal process. It is crucial for your attorney to have a complete understanding of all the relevant facts and laws, access to high quality expert testimony, expertise as a trial lawyer and experience handling medical malpractice cases.
The trusted Florida birth injury attorneys of Paul Knopf Bigger have the experience and skill you need to advocate successfully for justice for you and your child. We have won numerous multi-million-dollar awards and settlements for our clients who have been seriously injured by medical negligence in Florida and are committed to devoting the same skill, tenacity and resources to your case.
Proven, Trusted Florida Shoulder Dystocia Malpractice Attorneys
Successfully litigating Florida medical malpractice cases requires the skill and knowledge of experienced trial attorneys and the resources of a high-quality law firm. The Paul Knopf Bigger medical malpractice attorneys have the experience, skill and resources you can depend on to win your child’s shoulder dystocia malpractice case.
Attorneys from all parts of Florida and the U.S. trust us to handle their clients’ complex Florida medical malpractice claims. If your child was injured due to medical negligence associated with shoulder dystocia, you too can trust us to provide the superior legal representation, outstanding personal service and commitment to justice you deserve.
Please call us at 800-673-9585 or submit the “Free Case Evaluation” form on our website for free legal advice from an experienced medical malpractice attorney you can trust for excellence in the pursuit of justice. One of our experienced, knowledgeable medical malpractice attorneys will listen to what happened and help you decide on your best course of action.
- Dajani, N.K., Magann, E.F. (2014, June). Complications of shoulder dystocia. Seminars in Perinatology.
- Kroneyer, B. (30 April 2018). Shoulder dystocia: Unpredictable and unpreventable. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Practice Bulletin.
- March of Dimes. (2019, June). Shoulder dystocia.