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Negligence Alleged in Brachial Plexus Injury Lawsuit

newborn in incubatorSt. Mary’s Medical Management, LLC has been named defendant in a recent medical malpractice lawsuit brought by an Ohio woman and her child. The complaint alleges that the minor child suffered a fracture of the left clavicle as well as brachial plexus injury due to excessive force used to dislodge the baby during a prolonged labor. The delivery became complicated when, faced with shoulder dystocia, the attending OBGYN opted to forego a C-section and instead attempt to deliver the child vaginally.

Shoulder dystocia is considered an obstetric emergency, and happens when one or both of the baby’s shoulders are unable to pass through the birth canal. Delivery room staff are charged with either applying approved and successful maneuvers to dislodge the shoulder freely, or perform a prompt Cesarean section to help prevent injury to the child.

This brachial plexus injury lawsuit contends that the defendant doctor applied too much force and traction when trying to free the baby’s shoulder, causing the minor to sustain permanent harm.

Excessive force blamed for child’s brachial plexus injury

Circumstantial evidence and research indicates that a large baby (weighing 9 pounds or more) is the most reliable predictor for shoulder dystocia. As soon as doctors are presented with this emergency, swift action must be taken to ensure the labor is not further stalled, thus posing a risk for birth asphyxia and brain damage to the newborn.

If maneuvers are not successful to free the baby’s shoulder, OBGYNs will typically order an emergency C-section, which was not performed in this particular case, according to allegations. The defendant doctor “deviated from the accepted standard of care during the course of the delivery” of the minor plaintiff by utilizing too much traction, states the birth injury lawsuit. 

In addition to suffering a fractured clavicle and nerve injury to the brachial plexus, the child showed signs of health complications after birth. Shortly after delivery, the baby was described as flaccid and apneic with Apgar scores of one after one minute and 6 at five and ten minutes.  She was later transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit.

The case does not detail the extent or manner of the child’s brachial plexus injuries, which can include mild stretching of the nerve, to rupture or complete avulsion. Depending on the nature of the damage, children may experience weakness and partial to full paralysis of the hand, wrist, arm and/or shoulder. Loss of mobility is dependent on which area of the nerves were stretched or torn. Mild instances of nerve injury may recover without intervention over a course of 3-6 months. More severe damage often necessitates surgery, physical therapy and the possibility of nerve grafts.

Plaintiffs demand economic & non-economic damages

The medical malpractice suit is demanding an award including economic and non-economic damages, along with taxable court costs and interest. This may account for all past and future medical costs associated with the minor’s birth trauma, lost wages suffered by the mother, reduced earning capacity on the part of the child, as well as compensation for pain and emotional anguish.

The claimants, who hail from Lawrence County, Ohio, are demanding a trial by jury in the West Virginia Court, where they hope to obtain fair and equitable compensation against the defendants.

  1. University of Pittsburgh, Brachial Plexus Clinic,

  2. MedlinePlus, Brachial plexus injury in newborns,