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Charles J. Zauzig III

Shoulder Dystocia

The Law Firm of Nichols Zauzig is currently accepting cases involving births in the Commonwealth of Virginia that resulted in incidents of shoulder dystocia. If your child suffered this birth injury during delivery, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Contact Nichols Zauzig for a free legal consultation today.

Shoulder dystocia
is a type of brachial plexus injury that usually occurs during the birth process. When a baby’s head enters the mother’s birth canal, the rest of the newborn’s body may be in an awkward or rigid posture, making the delivery more difficult. Shoulder dystocia occurs when a newborn’s shoulder gets stuck against the bone structures behind the wall of the birth canal. In these situations, the obstetrician has a standard of care duty to carefully dislodge the impacted shoulder with no trauma and deliver the baby without injury. 

If the mother has been conscientious about prenatal care, then the attending physician should be aware of the risks of shoulder dystocia prior to the delivery. If a mother has an abnormal pelvic anatomy, gestational diabetes, or is a person of short stature, then any one of these can be considered a risk. Shoulder dystocia is also more common among women who deliver larger than average babies. The average rate for dystocia among infants weighing 9 pounds or more is 9 percent.

There are standard of care maneuvers that the obstetrician should employ to safely deliver a well baby. These maneuvers include the McRobert’s maneuver, which is simply pushing the mother’s legs further apart by applying pressure at the knee toward the head. Other maneuvers include gentle suprapubic pressure from the side, with the avoidance of any pressure between the breasts and abdomen. The latter pressure is called fundal pressure and is negligent and harmful to the baby. If these procedures are unsuccessful, the prudent obstetrician should attempt to rotate the lodged shoulder with gentle pressure using the Wood’s or Rubin maneuver. An episiotomy may provide additional outlet access. All maternal pushing should be terminated as well when shoulder dystocia is encountered. If an obstetrician applies excessive pressure, either with hands, forceps, vacuum extraction or other equipment used during delivery, nerves in the brachial plexus can be torn and damaged, resulting in partial or complete paralysis to the baby’s shoulder, arm and/or hand.

Shoulder dystocia can occur in two forms: unilateral and bilateral. In unilateral shoulder dystocia cases, only one shoulder becomes lodged against the upper wall of the birth canal, also called the pubic symphisis. In bilateral shoulder dystocia, both shoulders become lodged against the pubic symphisis and sacral promontory of the mother. Bilateral dystocia is less common than unilateral dystocia. Bilateral shoulder dystocia cases usually involve babies weighing 11 lbs. (5000 grams) or more at birth.

If your baby was physically injured during the delivery process, you have legal options. Your may file a claim on behalf of your child for physical therapy, life care expenses, pain and suffering, peer ridicule and past and future medical expenses. The Law Firm of Nichols Zauzig can assist you in navigating the often contentious settlement process with the insurance companies, and can help you secure the financial backing that will be needed to assist your child in leading a normal life.

Staffed with a highly knowledgeable registered nurse, years of medical investigation experience and an unmatched ability to present our findings in simple, honest and powerful terms to a court room jury, the Nichols-Zauzig Litigation Group is an aggressive medical malpractice law firm and experts in exposing medical negligence and wrongdoing.

Firm co-founder Charles Zauzig has represented numerous plaintiffs in cases of shoulder dystocia resulting in Erb’s Palsy, Klumpke’s Palsy throughout Virginia, as well as cases of Cerebral Palsy in which an obstetrician acted negligently. If you believe your baby was injured during delivery, a skilled and experienced attorney like Charles Zauzig can investigate the circumstances and determine if the injury could have been avoided. Contact the Nichols-Zauzig Litigation Group today for a free review of your case.