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Shoulder Dystocia Lawsuit Ends in $1 Million Jury Award

newborn sleepingA family that filed a shoulder dystocia lawsuit against a physician and hospital have been awarded $1 million for injuries suffered by their child at birth. The Jackson County Circuit Court determined that negligence during the birth of the child led to her alleged permanent injuries and disability. The jury also found the medical center listed as a defendant was not guilty of negligence in this case.

Shoulder dystocia recognized during labor

According to a report at the Mail Tribune, the mother plaintiff was admitted to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford on September 12, 2008. While at the hospital, the physician overseeing the labor and delivery recognized the shoulder dystocia, a serious birth complication where the shoulder of the baby gets stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone. Special care must be taken during one of these births to ensure the baby is safely delivered without injury.

There are some factors that can increase the risk for shoulder dystocia, including a large birthweight, multiple fetuses, or a history of shoulder dystocia in the past. However, many women experience this birth complication without any known risk factors, which means the situation may present in the delivery room without prior warning. If the shoulder dystocia is not properly handled, serious complications can occur to the mother like postpartum hemorrhage or a uterine rupture.

Complications to the child might include injury to the baby’s shoulder, arms and hand or a bone fracture. If the baby is not delivered promptly, there is also a risk of oxygen deprivation to the brain, which can lead to brain damage and even fetal death.

When shoulder dystocia is recognized, special maneuvers are typically recommended to deliver the baby safely. These include careful pressure to the mother’s thighs or lower abdomen, or turning of the baby in the birth canal to release the pressure. If these maneuvers are not successful, other last resort maneuvers may also be performed. In most cases of shoulder dystocia, the baby can be safely delivered without undue injury to the mother or the child.

According to this Jackson County plaintiff, no pressure was applied to the mother’s abdomen during the delivery process. The defendant stated during testimony that pressure to the abdomen was not appropriate during births involving shoulder dystocia. The jury concluded that the defendant used excessive traction during the delivery process, which led to the child’s injuries.

Consequently, the baby was born with torn shoulder nerves that have led to a possible permanent injury in the child’s left arm. Since her birth, the child, who is now six, has had three surgeries to repair the damage. Despite these efforts, the child will continue to have limited use of her left hand permanently, according to the family’s attorney.

Jury deliberates three weeks

The jury spent nearly three weeks deliberating before rendering their decision in this birth injury lawsuit. According to the terms of the award, which totals just over $1 million, the money will be controlled by the court until the child turns 18. The money can be used to pay for medical bills and other non-economic losses suffered by the family.

  1. Mail Tribune, Court Awards $1 Million to Jackson County 6-Year-Old Injured at Birth,

  2. American Family Physician, Shoulder Dystocia,

  3. March of Dimes, Shoulder Dystocia,