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  4.  – What is shoulder dystocia?

What is shoulder dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is a serious and sometimes unpredictable complication of the birthing process that may occur during labor and delivery. It happens when, after the delivery of a baby’s head, one of the baby’s shoulders becomes lodged behind the mother’s pubic bone. This can create an emergency requiring immediate medical attention.

The primary concern here is that the longer the baby remains stuck, the greater the risk of injury to both the mother and the baby.

Prompt attention is required

Healthcare professionals are trained to handle shoulder dystocia with specific maneuvers. However, even with prompt and proper management, shoulder dystocia can lead to severe complications.

Babies may suffer from brachial plexus injuries, which affect the nerves controlling the arms and hands, leading to weakness or paralysis in the affected limb. There’s also the risk of fractured bones or, in severe cases, oxygen deprivation, which can lead to brain injury. For mothers, complications can include excessive bleeding, tearing or damage to the uterus.

Negligence is sometimes a factor

If a healthcare team fails to anticipate the risk of dystocia in situations where risk factors are present, such as gestational diabetes or a very large baby, or if they don’t respond appropriately during the emergency, they might be held liable for any resulting injuries. It’s a delicate balance – healthcare providers must make swift decisions under pressure and adhere to a professional standard of care.

Establishing negligence in shoulder dystocia cases involves proving that healthcare professionals deviated from accepted medical practices and caused harm as a result. This often requires expert testimony to explain what should have been done differently. There are time limits built into Oregon law, so victims of this type of birth injury must ensure they seek legal guidance swiftly.