Shoulder Dystocia - New York Birth Injury Lawyer
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Shoulder Dystocia

baby faceA rare, though extremely serious obstectrical complication, shoulder dystocia occurs when one or both of a baby’s shoulders become wedged behind the mother’s pubic bone in the midst of delivery. Presentation of shoulder dystocia requires immediate, precise action on the part of doctors. Failure to identify this dangerous complication or to perform the necessary maneuvers to achieve a successful delivery can result in devastating injuries to the baby, including severe brain damage, brachial plexus injury, deep lacerations, bone fractures and contusions.

If you or your child has suffered serious harm due to physician mismanagement of shoulder dystocia during birth, a New York birth injury lawyer at The Sanders Firm can advise you about your legal rights. Victims of medical malpractice in New York are entitled to compensation for present and future medical bills, pain & suffering, loss of quality of life, and in tragic instances of fatalities at birth, wrongful death. Our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience litigating birth injury cases in NYC, and we are committed to leveraging our expertise and investigative resources on behalf of victims against deep-pocketed hospitals and doctors.

If your child suffered a birth injury due to medical errors or mistakes, the law is on your side. Call the attorneys at The Sanders Firm today for a free and honest evaluation of your case.

Key facts about shoulder dystocia

While relatively uncommon, cases of shoulder dystocia during the birth process tend to occur more frequently when the baby involved is heavier than average, and/or when the mother is a diabetic. The use of forceps and vacuum extractors during delivery can also increase the risk of shoulder dystocia. Identification of key risk factors can play a role in early detection and intervention.

Some estimates indicate that roughly 1 in 5 babies whose birth was characterized by shoulder dystocia will sustain either a temporary or permanent injury. Typical injuries related to shoulder dystocia include fetal asphyxia, brachial plexus injury, fractures of the clavicle, contusions and lacerations. In addition, mothers run the risk of suffering serious bleeding events during such deliveries.

In cases of fetal asphyxia, babies experience oxygen deprivation so severe that debilitating and sometimes permanent brain damage can occur.

When faced with shoulder dystocia, doctors must react quickly and appropriately to bring about a safe delivery. Failure to do so can be indicative of actionable medical malpractice. At The Sanders Firm, our NY birth injury attorneys have an in-house staff of nurses and medical experts to investigate the steps that led to your child’s injury, and determine if errors or omissions on the part of healthcare practitioners were to blame.

Brachial plexus injury

Brachial plexus injuries are commonly seen in the aftermath of shoulder dystocia births, and impact the nerve bundle responsible for governing movement of the hands, arms and shoulders. Klumpke’s Palsy and Erb’s Palsy are frequent complications of this type of injury and can produce permanent range of motion restriction and serious disability. Often the result of a physician’s failure to adhere to the recognized medical standard of care or to perform one or more of the maneuvers known to mitigate the risk of harm, these types of injuries can form the basis of a successful medical malpractice lawsuit in NY.

Signs and symptoms of shoulder dystocia

One of the most important things a physician can do to prevent injuries resulting from shoulder dystocia is to be alert to the numerous signals such cases often present.

Warning signs of increased risk of shoulder dystocia include:

  • Prior maternal history of births involving shoulder dystocia
  • A baby with a body that is large in proportion to its head
  • Maternal diabetes,
  • Maternal obesity
  • A pregnancy that has gone beyond full term

Failure to heed these alerts and make the maneuvers necessary to prevent additional complications and injury can result in malpractice liability. Once shoulder dystocia has become apparent, it is critical that the physician initiate standard maneuvers and physical manipulations intended to accomplish rapid, safe delivery of the baby. If initial attempts do not succeed, the doctor must immediately undertake emergency management techniques that may involve additional labor nurses, anesthesiologists, neonatologists and other highly trained staff. If this type of organized, deliberate approach is not followed, severe injuries to both mother and child can result.

We at the Sanders Firm believe that healthcare practitioners who do not meet recognized standards of care need to be held responsible for the harm they cause. Remember that the law is always on the side of victims of birth injury malpractice in New York. You and your family do not need to match hospitals and doctors dollar for dollar in malpractice litigation—at The Sanders Firm, we take on all litigation costs for our clients, and spare no expense in building the strongest case possible. We charge no fees unless we win your case.

Compensation for birth trauma relating to shoulder dystocia

Victims of birth injuries stemming from improperly handled cases of shoulder dystocia in New York may be entitled to receive substantial monetary compensation, including payments for hospital expenses, future costs of treatment, therapy and rehabilitation, as well as compensation for pain and emotional distress.

Because New York law requires patients to bear the burden of proof in medical malpractice matters, the key to success lies in securing the most competent, aggressive representation available. The team of attorneys at the Sanders Firm will do everything possible to marshal the evidence required to establish the failure to adhere to the appropriate standard of medical care, document the true amount of damages sustained, and protect the rights of the injured.

How The Sanders Firm can help

The New York birth injury attorneys at the Sanders Firm know that injuries resulting from medical malpractice are especially devastating and can cause financial and emotional disruptions for families that can be difficult to overcome. That is why we have dedicated ourselves to advocating on behalf of victims of all types of medical negligence in all five boroughs of NYC, and Long Island. To receive a no-cost initial consultation with our lawyers, call 1-800-FAIR-PLAY.


  1. American Family Physician, Shoulder Dystocia, http://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0401/p1707.html

  2. Medscape, Shoulder Dystocia, http://www.emedicine.medscape.com/article/1602970-overview