New Jersey Shoulder Dystocia Injury Lawyers
Shoulder dystocia is a severe form of obstructed labor that puts the mother and unborn child in medical danger. Dystocia is the medical term for an obstructed birth. This particular obstetric emergency occurs when the baby’s shoulder impacts the mother’s pelvis, usually after the head has successfully passed through the birth canal. Doctors and obstetricians must rush into action to free the baby and ensure the umbilical cord is not compressed. If not corrected quickly, a compressed umbilical cord can block the oxygen flow and lead to hypoxia or fetal demise. Nerve damage and palsies in the arm and shoulder commonly occur during difficult deliveries. Unfortunately, many times shoulder dystocia can be avoided and it is only due to medical malpractice on the part of the doctor and the hospital.
Complications and Injuries Linked to Shoulder Dystocia
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) estimates that shoulder dystocia occurs in one percent of natural births. However, twenty percent of affected babies suffer temporary or permanent injuries. Obstetricians and nurses are instructed to follow “HELPERR” or “ALARMER” protocols, which include a number of maneuvers and medical procedures ranging from less extreme to invasive. If the baby cannot be delivered after manipulation, the doctor may be forced to return the baby to the fetal position and attempt an emergency C-section.
Damage to the brachial plexus nerves occurs when doctors attempt to relocate the baby’s shoulder during the birth process. This nerve, which travels from the spine through the shoulder and armpit, provides sensory input and controls the arm, forearm, and hand. Paralyzing palsies are typically caused when the nerve is stretched and pulled. In severe cases, the nerve roots can be torn out of the spine, which causes permanent dysfunction. Some nerve damage can repair itself within a year, but nearly ten percent of newborns have permanent injuries.
Common fetal injuries caused by shoulder dystocia include the following:
- Erb’s palsy.
- Cerebral palsy.
- Brachial plexus nerve damage.
- Paralysis in the hand and forearm.
- Fractures to the upper arm, collarbone or shoulder.
While risks and injuries primarily affect the baby, the mother is also in danger. These maternal injuries are commonly associated with shoulder dystocia.
- Ruptured uterus.
- Internal hemorrhages.
- Episiotomy repairs.
- Torn tissue.
Legal Liability for Shoulder Dystocia
Shoulder dystocia is a life-threatening delivery complication that often occurs without warning. Gestational diabetes, overdue babies, maternal obesity, and babies large for gestational age increase the possibility. The incidence rate jumps from one percent to nine percent when these risk factors are present or when babies weigh more than nine pounds, fourteen ounces. The greatest risk factor is a history of shoulder dystocia in previous births. However, it often happens unexpectedly during deliveries where forceps or vacuums are used.
Regardless of risk factors, New Jersey obstetricians and nurses have a duty to act quickly to do whatever they can to minimize trauma. If your child was harmed due to shoulder dystocia caused by medical malpractice or the negligence of delivery room doctors and nurses, you may be entitled to compensation.
At Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman, our shoulder dystocia attorneys are dedicated to assisting parents in Essex County and all parts of New Jersey in birth injury lawsuits. We have been named to the Best New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorneys list by the Best Lawyers in America, and we have a proven track record of winning multi-million dollar settlements for our clients, such as an $18.5 million medical malpractice verdict for birth injuries suffered by a New Jersey boy.
If you or your newborn child were injured due to birth complications of shoulder dystocia, contact the New Jersey birth injury attorneys at Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman. A shoulder dystocia attorney will reply as soon as possible to discuss your case privately and confidentially.