In most births, both the infant and the mother emerge from the experience healthy and happy. However, dangerous complications and birth injuries are always a possibility. Shoulder dystocia is one such condition that has the potential to cause serious and even life-threatening birth injuries if left unaddressed.
To be clear, shoulder dystocia itself is not caused by negligence on the part of the delivery team. It is a pregnancy complication in which the infant’s head has emerged from the birth canal, but its shoulders become stuck and will not pass through unassisted. Without medical intervention, the condition poses risks to the infant and the mother and can lead to the following birth injuries.
- Infant brain injury due to oxygen deprivation
- Injuries to the infant’s arms, shoulders or hands
- Excessive hemorrhaging in the mother
- Tearing of the mother’s vagina, uterus, cervix or rectum
Infant death may be a possibility without medical assistance.
Medical practitioner negligence comes into play if the doctor delivering the baby does not properly address the condition. Doctors have a variety of techniques they can use to minimize the impact of shoulder dystocia. Because this knowledge is so common in the medical community, there are few valid reasons for an infant or a mom to suffer serious injuries because of shoulder dystocia.
For those in Illinois who have suffered birth injuries, no malpractice claim can reverse the damage caused by physician negligence. However, filing such a claim may help other mothers and babies avoid similar injuries. When medical professionals know that there are consequences for their mistakes, they are more likely to provide the appropriate level of care to all of their patients.