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Shoulder Dystocia and Birth Injuries


Newborn infants are usually very tiny, and the mother’s birth canal is usually very tiny as well. If the baby’s shoulders are slightly too wide, the baby often becomes lodged in the mother’s birth canal. This situation is quite common, as shoulder dystocia is one of the leading causes of birth injuries.

If the baby does not slide down the birth canal, the umbilical cord may apply pressure to the baby’s neck. The resulting hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) could cause cerebral palsy in as little as five minutes.

Cerebral palsy and other brain injuries are permanent. Once brain cells die, they never regenerate. So, a Tampa personal injury attorney may be able to obtain substantial compensation in these situations. This compensation gives families the resources they need to cope with the staggering financial and emotional costs associated with cerebral palsy.

Recognizing Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is a very serious condition, but it is also very easy to recognize. So, the resulting birth injuries are often related to medical misdiagnosis.

A number of diagnostic tests can determine the risk of shoulder dystocia. Unfortunately, many doctors do not order such tests. They may be afraid that the insurance company will refuse to pay for them. As a result, many doctors simply go with their gut instincts. Confidence is a good trait in a medical professional, but overconfidence is not good at all.

Other times, doctors perform the necessary tests, but they do not respond appropriately. They might over-rely on technicians or nurses to interpret the results. Many times, these professionals, while they are highly competent in many areas, should not interpret test results. They might make mistakes, or things may get lost in translation. Alternatively, doctors may dismiss warning signs as “borderline” shoulder dystocia. They may give the mother some advice, but not intervene in any meaningful way.

Mechanically-Assisted Birth Injuries

As mentioned, when the baby becomes lodged in the mother’s birth canal, the clock starts ticking. In pressure situations, doctors do what many of us do. They fall back on things they learned many years ago. Unfortunately, most assisted birth techniques usually do more harm than good.

  • Forceps: One of the oldest mechanical birth aids resembles a pair of large salad tongs. The doctor squeezes the baby and tried to pull it out of the mother’s womb. This action often causes a permanent head injury, either to the skull or the brain.
  • Vacuum Extractor: Alternatively, the doctor may place a metal cap to the baby’s head, connect the cap to a vacuum pump, and try to suck the baby out of the mother. Much like forceps, this procedure often causes permanent head injuries.
  • Episiotomy: These incisions on the mother’s premium (area between the genitals and anus) supposedly widen the birth canal. But the American Academy of Pediatrics says that such procedures are often ineffective. Additionally, they often cause uncontrolled maternal bleeding.

Arguably, using dangerous and unproven techniques in the labor room constitutes negligence. That’s especially true given the high duty of care that doctors owe to their patients.

Work with Dedicated Lawyers

A few moments of medical negligence may create a lifetime of pain and suffering. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in birth injury cases.




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