Shoulder Dystocia–Erb’s Palsy & Klumpke’s Palsy

Shoulder dystocia is a complication of pregnancy that occurs when the baby’s shoulder becomes impacted against the mother’s pelvic wall.  Experienced physicians can minimize the risk of shoulder dystocia by watching for common risk factors, such as a large baby or the onset of gestational diabetes.  Sometimes, however, doctors will inadvertently increase the risk for shoulder dystocia by hyperstimulating the mother, increasing contractions and accelerating labor.  Trained obstetricians and nurses will know how to address shoulder dystocia and resolve the complication without injury to mother or infant.  Unfortunately, there are still many obstetricians and nurse that fail to use medically acceptable methods to resolve this complication.  As a result, injury to the baby can occur.

The most common injury is to the brachial plexus network of nerves which can be strained or even avulsed during delivery.  Erb’s Palsy is an injury that involves the upper trunk of the brachial plexus network (nerve roots C5 through C7).  This condition affects the muscles of the upper arm, forcing the scapula into an abnormal position known as “winging.”  The muscles that control the wrist’s ability to extend and rotate can also be affected, and the humerus is often adducted, or pulled in tight towards the body.  Klumpke’s palsy is caused by injuries to nerve roots C7, C8, and T1.  This injury results in forearm supination, where the arm is turned palm-up, causing diminished mobility and sensation in the hand.

Injuries from medical mismanagement of shoulder dystocia are sometimes temporary, and they will resolve in a few months.  Other times, however, the injury is so severe that it is permanent.  A few seconds of negligence in the delivery room can result in a lifetime if disability and impairment.  Medical treatments and therapies are expensive, and career options are limited for children who suffer this devastating birth injury.  Utah medical malpractice attorney Ryan Springer has helped many families recover money to cover both past and future medical bills for kids with Erb’s Palsy and Klumpke’s Palsy.  For additional information, or if you have questions about a possible shoulder dystocia negligence case, contact attorney Ryan Springer at (801) 502-8735.

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