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Can Shoulder Dystocia Be Prevented?

May 24, 2021

Shoulder dystocia is a birth-related complication in which a baby’s shoulder (or shoulders) gets lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone. It’s one of the most common complications that leads to birth injuries.

After learning that shoulder dystocia occurred during their child’s birth, parents often have important questions about the complication. One of the first questions parents ask is, “Was this complication preventable?”

The answer depends on several factors.

Is Shoulder Dystocia Preventable?

In some cases, shoulder dystocia can be prevented through preemptive cesarean (C-section) deliveries when clear risks for shoulder dystocia are identified by doctors. Though physicians can’t say for certain that shoulder dystocia will occur in a given birth, they can sometimes identify cases in which these complications are likely.

It’s up to physicians to identify these possible complications and take steps to avoid them. If they notice that a mother and baby are at high risk for shoulder dystocia, they should consider all options to avoid these complications, such as cesarean deliveries.

Even When Shoulder Dystocia Isn’t Predicted, Proper Steps Can Prevent Injury

It’s not always the case that risks for shoulder dystocia can be identified by doctors. However, the actions that medical professionals take once shoulder dystocia is detected could prevent a serious birth injury.

Avoiding serious birth injuries once shoulder dystocia occurs requires implementing a series of maneuvers that most obstetrical doctors should be familiar with. Doctors should also thoroughly understand pelvic and fetal anatomy to aid in these maneuvers.

When Doctors Don’t Take Proper Steps, Families Suffer the Consequences

Shoulder dystocia can lead to very serious birth injuries. The most common consequences of shoulder dystocia are brachial plexus injuries, which means damage to the group of nerves that coordinate movement from the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm, and hand.

Brachial plexus injuries can lead to serious impairments in a newborn, and those impairments could pose developmental issues that affect a child throughout the rest of their life. These injuries can lead to upper arm weakness, loss of muscle function, or complete paralysis of the upper arm.

Parents might be informed that their child has suffered a brachial plexus injury or Erb’s palsy. However, in some cases, doctors neglect to inform parents that their child suffered serious injuries during birth.

When Birth Injuries Occur, Parents Have the Right to Explore Legal Options

Birth injuries can cause a great deal of stress, frustration, and concern for families. These injuries can also mean financial difficulties for families as they seek medical treatment, physical therapy, and special needs accommodations for their children.

When a birth injury happens, parents have the right to ask questions. They might even have legal pathways to compensation for the damages they and their child have experienced.

If You Need Legal Help, Fieger Law Is Here

At Fieger Law, our Michigan birth injury lawyers have years of experience fighting for families. We know what it takes to find out whether negligence played a role in a birth and, if it did, how to get compensation for our clients.

Contact Fieger Law today to schedule a free consultation with our birth injury lawyers.