For more information of confidential assistance
Call 800-306-3180

Erb’s Palsy Lawsuit Filed in New York District Court

infant holding hand

On May 15, 2015, a mother filed an Erb’s Palsy lawsuit on behalf of her minor daughter alleging serious negligence and sub-standard care during the child’s birth. In a concurrent action, the mother filed an administrative action against the Westchester County hospital wherein the birth took place, known as Phelps Memorial Hospital Center, alleging the hospital failed to properly train, monitor and supervise its obstetric staff, resulting in harm to the child.

Between the two actions, the mother is seeking compensation to redress the total amount of medical care and lost wages the child will endure during her lifetime into adulthood. Moreover, the mother is seeking fair compensation for the pain and suffering associated with raising a child suffering from brachial plexus injuries, and alleges the child’s condition could have been prevented with a stricter adherence to accepted practices in labor and delivery.

Details of the plaintiff’s claims 

On November 23, 2012, the plaintiff presented at Phelps Memorial and delivered the child vaginally after a prolonged pushing stage. Allegedly, the obstetrician and attending nurses failed to properly diagnose and mitigate the existence of right shoulder dystocia – a condition which occurs when the baby’s shoulder becomes lodged behind the pelvic bone structure of the mother.

As a result of the dystocia, the plaintiff’s care team began to implement techniques to “free” the child from the obstruction to conclude the birthing process. While there are a number of ways to accomplish this task, the plaintiff alleges that her practitioner “exerted excessive traction” on the baby’s body in order to extract the child, resulting in permanent injuries to the child’s right arm, shoulder and neck. More specifically, the plaintiff alleges that the procedures used to effectuate delivery of the child were not in “accordance with the proper practice that is generally recognized in this community” – a keystone assertion in any medical malpractice claim.

Lack of informed consent

Informed consent is a necessary and foundational component to comprehensive medical care. In general, this concept requires a physician to inform the patient as to the possible risks associated with a particular course of treatment – including a thorough explanation of any alternatives. The purpose behind informed consent is to ensure the patient is able to make a fully-educated medical decision based on the entirety of all available information.

Here, the plaintiff has alleged that her obstetric team failed to explain the shoulder dystocia situation to her, and did not offer guidelines or alternatives to help the childbirth process proceed.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, there are a number of options available to help mothers and babies avoid birth injuries associated with shoulder dystocia, including:

  • Evaluation for episiotomy (perineal surgical incision to widen the birth canal)
  • Repositioning the maternal hips
  • Applying pressure to the fetal anterior shoulder using a downward lateral motion known as suprapubic pressure
  • Manipulating the fetus internally to “dislodge” the shoulder
  • Rolling the patient onto an “all fours” position

As a last resort, the AAFP recommends an emergency C-section to ensure the baby is delivered safely and unharmed. In this case, the plaintiff contends that no extraordinary measures were used to mitigate the circumstances, and her child suffered permanent physiological harm as a result.

  1., Shoulder dystocia,

  2., Shoulder dystocia,