Shoulder Dystocia and Iowa Medical Malpractice

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Posted by Farl Greene

Childbirth is a stressful process for both the mother and baby.  However, delivery can go from stressful to tragic when an Iowa obstetrician fails to diagnose shoulder dystocia.

What is Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is a birth complication that happens when the baby’s shoulders become stuck in the birth canal.  After the baby’s head has been delivered, the shoulder of the infant is unable to emerge from behind the mother’s pubic bone and the baby becomes stuck.  The labor process continues, and contractions push down on the baby’s head, neck, and umbilical cord.  If this is not corrected quickly, shoulder dystocia can lead to developmental delays, serious physical injuries, or even death.

Injuries Caused By Shoulder Dystocia

There are several different injuries that can occur to a newborn if shoulder dystocia is not properly addressed by a doctor.  These can include:

  • Erb’s palsy – This injury involves full or partial paralysis of the nerves in the affected arm. Severe cases of Erb’s palsy can result in permanent disability.
  • Cerebral palsy – This neurological disorder can affect a child’s movement, speech, hearing, muscle tone, and learning abilities. Cerebral palsy can happen during childbirth when the baby does not receive enough oxygen.  If this lack of oxygen continues for a long period of time, the child can suffer a loss of brain cells.   This, in turn, causes cerebral palsy.
  • Other developmental delays – If the umbilical cord is compressed during shoulder dystocia, oxygen is cut off to the baby. This can lead to developmental delays as the child gets older, including issues with learning and motor skills.
  • Complications for the mother – Shoulder dystocia can also have serious complications for the mother. She may suffer severe blood loss, tears, or ruptures during childbirth.

If you or your newborn has suffered any of these conditions after their birth, you should speak with a medical malpractice attorney right away, because the obstetrician may have been negligent.

How Do Injuries Occur From Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is a medical complication that every OB-GYN should be able to diagnose and treat when it happens.  Unfortunately, sometimes doctors aren’t prepared for these complications, or they don’t recognize the signs and symptoms until the baby is in danger.  When this happens, the baby can suffer permanent injuries from the delay in treatment.

Shoulder dystocia can also occur from assisted delivery.  When the doctor utilizes forceps or a vacuum during a difficult labor, this can increase the possibility of complications.  If either of these methods must be used, the OB-GYN should be prepared for shoulder dystocia to occur.

If your baby has suffered irreversible damage due to shoulder dystocia during birth, you need to speak with an Iowa medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.  Call RSH Legal today at 1-319-774-1542.

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