Medical Malpractice and Shoulder Dystocia

Doctor preparing for a proceedureWhen you are giving birth to a child, there’s always the possibility that, once the baby’s head is out of the birth canal, one of its shoulders will get caught on your pubic bone, a condition known as “Shoulder Dystocia.” If your delivering physician fails to take appropriate steps, your child can suffer very serious consequences, including damage to the brachial plexus nerves that control the shoulder, arms, hands and fingers. This can lead to loss of use or paralysis. In rare situations, shoulder Dystocia may impede the flow of blood and oxygen, causing brain damage, cerebral palsy or even death.

Erb’s Palsy and Klumpke’s Palsy

There are commonly accepted procedures that can ease the pressure on your baby’s shoulder and minimize the risk of injury. Often, though, delivering physicians will try to force the shoulder past the pubic bone. When this causes injury to the upper group of arm nerves, your child may be left with limited range of motion of the affected arm, or may not be able to raise the arm at all, a condition known medically as Erb-Duchenne palsy, or Erb’s palsy. If, however, the carelessness of the physician causes damage to the nerves/muscles in the forearm or the hand, your child may have limited or no use of hands or fingers. It’s also common for a child who has suffered injury because of shoulder Dystocia to have the damaged arm end up shorter.

There are medical procedures and treatments for both Erb’s and Klumpke’s palsies, but they can be extensive and expensive. Your child may benefit from nerve grafting or surgeries that cut and reposition bones, muscle or tendons. It’s likely, though, that your son or daughter will face years of physical therapy.

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At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to men and women throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.