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Shoulder Dystocia

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Denver, CO Birth Injury Lawyers

Shoulder dystocia is a complication from childbirth that can have serious and potentially lifelong consequences for newborns. In most cases, shoulder dystocia is preventable with appropriate medical care, and parents of infants who experience dystocia will often be entitled to financial compensation for medical malpractice.

Understanding Shoulder Dystocia and Its Effects

What is Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia occurs when an infant’s shoulders get stuck in the mother’s pelvis, behind the public bone, once the head has passed through the birth canal. In this position, the infant is prone to a variety of injuries, and the risk of injury increases when mistakes are made during delivery.

What Types of Injuries Can Result from Shoulder Dystocia?

While shoulder injuries are most common, shoulder dystocia can result in damage to all parts of the body. Common birth injuries resulting from shoulder dystocia include:

  • Bone fractures (most frequently the humerus or clavicle)
  • Brain damage (including hypoxic brain injury)
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Erb’s palsy
  • Klumpke’s palsy
  • Other brachial plexus nerve injuries

What are the Risk Factors for Shoulder Dystocia?

There are several factors that an increase the risk of birth injuries from shoulder dystocia. Obstetricians and delivering nurses should be well-versed in these risk factors and take appropriate action to avoid dystocia whenever possible. Some of the leading risk factors for shoulder dystocia include:

  • Fetal macrosomia (birth weight in excess of 8 pounds, 13 ounces)
  • Late childbirth (beyond 40 weeks)
  • Maternal diabetes and obesity
  • Multiple births
  • Use of an epidural and induced labor

How Can Injuries from Shoulder Dystocia Be Prevented?

There are a number of ways that obstetricians, delivering nurses and other medical professionals can prevent birth injuries resulting from shoulder dystocia. These include taking necessary steps to diagnose fetal distress, recommending C-section delivery when necessary to protect the baby’s health, avoiding use of excessive force, and making proper use of forceps.

Can Shoulder Dystocia be Fatal?

Tragically, yes. While shoulder dystocia itself is generally not fatal, birth injuries resulting from improper medical management of dystocia can lead to infant death.

What Should I Do if My Newborn Suffered a Birth Injury Due to Shoulder Dystocia?

If your child has been diagnosed with a birth injury that may have been caused by shoulder dystocia, you should (i) seek medical attention for your newborn from a qualified physician, and (ii) speak with an attorney about filing a claim for medical malpractice. Birth injuries can lead to a lifetime of physical, financial and emotional distress, and Colorado law entitles families to recover just compensation for injuries resulting from medical mistakes.

How long do I have to file a medical malpractice claim for my child’s birth injury?

Under Colorado law, in most cases parents have until their child’s eighth birthday to seek compensation for a birth injury resulting from medical malpractice. However, there are several important reasons for parents to discuss their rights with an attorney as soon as possible.

Speak with a Denver Birth Injury Lawyer at Levine Law

For more information about seeking financial compensation for birth injuries caused by shoulder dystocia, contact Levine Law to schedule a free consultation. To speak with one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers in confidence, call (303) 333-8000 or inquire online today. 

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