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How Is Shoulder Dystocia Caused?

newborn shoulder

Shoulder dystocia is a complication that can occur during childbirth, presenting serious risks to the mother and the baby. It happens when the baby’s shoulders get stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone during delivery. Understanding the causes of shoulder dystocia is crucial for expectant parents and healthcare providers because of the implications for potential medical malpractice.

Several factors can contribute to the occurrence of shoulder dystocia during childbirth:

  • Fetal macrosomia: One of the primary causes of shoulder dystocia is fetal macrosomia, which refers to a larger-than-average baby. Babies with excessive birth weight are more likely to experience shoulder dystocia because their shoulders may have difficulty passing through the birth canal.
  • Maternal pelvic anatomy: The shape and size of the mother’s pelvis can influence the likelihood of shoulder dystocia. Certain pelvic shapes or abnormalities can create obstacles for the baby’s passage through the birth canal.
  • Improper fetal positioning: The position of the baby during delivery can also affect the occurrence of shoulder dystocia. Babies in a posterior position (face-up) rather than the optimal anterior position (face-down) may encounter more difficulties during delivery.
  • Prolonged labor: Prolonged or difficult labor can increase the risk of shoulder dystocia. When labor is prolonged, the baby may experience distress, leading to their position or posture changes.
  • Maternal health conditions: Certain maternal health conditions, like gestational diabetes or obesity, can predispose the baby to shoulder dystocia.

How Might Shoulder Dystocia Constitute Medical Malpractice?

Shoulder dystocia can potentially constitute medical malpractice if healthcare providers fail to adhere to the standard of care expected in managing this complication.

Healthcare providers have a duty to assess and recognize risk factors for shoulder dystocia, such as fetal macrosomia or maternal health conditions. Failure to identify these risk factors and take appropriate precautions may constitute negligence.

Prompt and effective management of shoulder dystocia is crucial for minimizing risks to both the mother and the baby. Healthcare providers must employ appropriate maneuvers and techniques to deliver the baby safely. Failure to do so or using excessive force that leads to injury may be considered medical malpractice.

Shoulder dystocia requires immediate intervention to prevent complications such as brachial plexus injuries or oxygen deprivation for the baby. It may constitute negligence if healthcare providers delay responding to shoulder dystocia or fail to call for assistance promptly.

How Can I Claim Medical Malpractice for Shoulder Dystocia?

To claim medical malpractice for shoulder dystocia, you must demonstrate that healthcare providers breached the standard of care expected in managing this complication. This may involve showing that they failed to recognize risk factors, improperly managed shoulder dystocia, or delayed response.

Key elements in establishing a medical malpractice claim for shoulder dystocia include:

  • Standard of care: Establishing the standard of care expected of healthcare providers in similar circumstances, typically with the help of expert testimony.
  • Breach of duty: Demonstrating that the healthcare provider deviated from the standard of care, such as failing to recognize risk factors for shoulder dystocia or using improper delivery techniques.
  • Causation: Showing that the healthcare provider’s breach of duty directly caused or contributed to the harm suffered by the mother or baby.
  • Damages: Proving the extent of the harm suffered due to the healthcare provider’s negligence. The damages might include medical expenses, pain and suffering, and long-term disabilities.

Contact Our Fairfax Shoulder Dystocia Lawyers at the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates for a Free Consultation

If you are seeking a shoulder dystocia claim, seek legal advice from our experienced Fairfax shoulder dystocia lawyers at the Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D. & Associates. Complete our online form or call 202-223-4488 for more information and a free consultation. Located in Washington, D.C., we serve clients in the surrounding areas, including Northern Virginia and Maryland.

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