Shoulder Dystocia & Erb's Palsy

Skilled Birth Injury Attorneys Serving Philadelphia Since 1958

The word "dystocia" means a difficult birth or labor. Shoulder dystocia can occur in a difficult delivery when one or both of the baby's shoulders become stuck in the birth canal or on the mother's pelvic bones, thereby not allowing the baby to be delivered. When medical professionals realize that a baby has a shoulder dystocia, they must quickly and safely address the situation to make sure the baby is not harmed by a lack of oxygen to the brain, stretch nerve injuries, or serious nerve injuries. If a baby's shoulder dystocia is not treated properly, it could cause permanent brain damage, Erb's palsy, or a brachial plexus injury.

If your baby was injured due inadequate medical attention, you need the help of The Beasley Firm. Our Philadelphia birth injury lawyers are known throughout Pennsylvania for their record-setting recoveries in the field of medical malpractice. Our track record of success is due to our commitment to excellence. We have a team of highly specialized birth injury team of nurses and doctors who have witnessed thousands of labors and births. Since 1958, our firm has been awarded tens of millions of dollars for birth injury victims and over $2 billion on behalf of all our clients. Call (215) 866-2424 to begin a free consultation today!

Know the Risk Factors of Shoulder Dystocia

To effectively prevent shoulder dystocia, it is crucial for your doctor to identify risk factors in your pregnancy that could lead to this condition.

The following factors could result in shoulder dystocia:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Large infant
  • Breech position
  • Large pregnancy weight gain
  • Small pelvis
  • Small mother
  • Overdue baby
  • Obese mother
  • Previous pregnancy with shoulder dystocia
  • Previous pregnancy with large baby

After acknowledging the risks present, the doctor should have a plan in place to address shoulder dystocia, should it occur during labor and delivery.

Preventing Birth Injury Due to Shoulder Dystocia

Once a shoulder dystocia is recognized, there are certain things your physician, nurse, or midwife should do to help release the shoulder that is stuck. The first thing usually attempted is a repositioning of the mother's legs to help widen the birth canal. If that does not work, gentle pressure may be applied to the mother's lower stomach area. Sometimes, the doctor or nurse will try to rotate and turn the baby to see if that releases the shoulder that is stuck. If all those measures fail to free the shoulder, the doctor may break the baby's clavicle or collar bone to safely deliver the baby. If none of those procedures work, a C-section will have to be performed. The key is to quickly and safely release the stuck shoulder.

Effects of Shoulder Dystocia

Damage to the brachial plexus nerves can be mild or severe. These injuries can happen either due to ruptured nerves, stretched nerves, crushed nerves, scar tissue development or neuroma, or an avulsion injury in which the spine and the nerve are unattached.

Take a look at common conditions resulting from shoulder dystocia:

  • Klumpke's Palsy: This generally causes the fingers and hands to be paralyzed.
  • Horner's Syndrome: This may cause droopy eyelids and uneven pupil size.
  • Erb's Palsy: The infant may hold their arm close to the body, with their palm faced backwards. The arm will not move from below the elbow.
  • Complete Brachial Plexus Injury: This is the most severe form of injury, causing total paralysis to the arm.

Some brachial plexus injuries may get better as time passes. However, other brachial plexus cases are so severe that the injuries may be permanent. Once a brachial plexus injury is diagnosed, the infant will be started on physical therapy and watched for a few months to see if the nerve damage is getting better. If the nerve damage is not getting any better, surgery may be needed in order to repair the damage.

Our Trial Bags Are Locked & Loaded-Call (215) 866-2424

Nationally recognized, The Beasley Firm has successfully litigated shoulder dystocia and Erb's Palsy lawsuits with substantial results. In addition to our experienced Philadelphia birth injury attorneys, we also have two physicians and three registered nurses on staff, including two of them that specialized in pregnancy, labor, and newborn care. Our nurses have witnessed hundreds of shoulder dystocia labors, just like the one you or a loved one experienced. Their collective knowledge assisted in obtaining two of the largest medical negligence verdicts in Pennsylvania history, $100 million and $55 million, as well as countless other multi-million dollar judgments and settlements.

We work on a contingency basis, meaning that if we don't recover compensation on your behalf, you don't pay us anything. Call (215) 866-2424 for a free consult.

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