Settlement of $900,000 is Reached After Childbirth Mistake Leaves Baby with Damaged Shoulder
Shoulder injuries caused to babies during birth occur more frequently than we would like to believe. These injuries can be very serious and often medical staff are to blame.
In a recent case highlighted in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, in 2011, a child was born with a completely paralyzed right arm after suffering a severe brachial plexus nerve injury. The doctors knew that the child was at risk for shoulder dystocia due to its mother’s obesity and it was large for gestational age weight. An ultrasound at 36 weeks had determined that the baby was in the 97 percentile in terms of weight. During the birth, the mother could not push the baby past the second stage and the doctor chose to use a vacuum to assist the process. However, once the head had emerged, the doctor realized that there was a shoulder dystocia. The doctor tried to relieve the shoulder dystocia, with multiple different techniques. The baby was delivered, but during the process it suffered major nerve damage to its right shoulder.
The case was settled for $900,000, according to Virginia Lawyers Weekly, to the credit of attorneys Charles Zauzig and Melissa Ray of Woodbridge. They were ready to argue that the defendant failed to act like a well-trained obstetrician would normally behave in this situation in three specific ways. All cases are different and we cannot guarantee the same result in another case.
The medical malpractice lawsuit was based on claims that the defendant failed to obtain informed consent from the patient to proceed first with a vaginal delivery, then failed to obtain informed consent to perform a vacuum assisted vaginal delivery, and finally failed to use no more than gentle force during delivery once the shoulder dystocia was discovered.
The plaintiff’s attorneys contended that any reasonable obstetrician should have realized the increased risks of a vaginal delivery due to the many risk factors in the situation and accurately laid out these risks for the patient. If taken into consideration these risk factors would have made the choice of a C-section a prudent one, but these risks were never fully expressed to the patient and so she could not have made an informed choice when she chose to have a vaginal delivery. This same issue occurred when the doctor chose to use a vacuum to assist in the delivery. The defendant did not obtain proper consent for the procedure because he did not explain all the potential dangers involved in a vacuum assisted delivery of such a large child. Lastly, when the shoulder dystocia was discovered, the doctor attempted to manually relieve the pressure. However, he used more force than is advised for the technique and, the plaintiff’s side contends, caused the nerve damage that paralyzed the child’s arm.
This was a tragic example of medical malpractice in which a human’s quality of life was permanently diminished before it could even begin due to the actions of a doctor. If you have been injured by the negligence of a person in the medical field, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers for a free consultation at 757 455 0077. When it really counts, count on Cooper Hurley.