From the moment the pregnancy is confirmed until the much-anticipated labor and delivery, a parent’s primary concern is that their child is born healthy without major complications.

However, various things can go wrong during childbirth, resulting in serious, permanent injuries to both the baby and the mother.

Shoulder dystocia is one example of a birth injury that occurs unexpectedly when the baby’s head emerges from the mother’s pelvic bone during vaginal delivery. Still, the shoulder becomes lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone.

Healthcare providers must act quickly to ensure the baby is delivered safely. Suppose your doctor didn’t take the necessary steps or perform the recommended maneuvers to resolve shoulder dystocia during delivery. You could get help to file a shoulder dystocia birth injury claim against the negligent doctor. This article highlights important reasons for filing a lawsuit.

1. Holding Medical Practitioners Accountable

A plaintiff or their attorneys must be able to show that the healthcare team who attended to the mother and child during birth fell short of the expected standard of care.

Here are some examples of possible shoulder dystocia neglect:

  • The doctor who delivered the baby failed to recognize the warning signs of shoulder dystocia and did not prepare adequately to handle it.
  • The doctor did not warn a high-risk mother about the risk of shoulder dystocia injuries nor recommended a C-section to avoid the risk.
  • When shoulder dystocia occurred, the doctor acted inappropriately (for example, pulling on the baby’s arms), injuring the baby, the mother, or both.

Medical practitioners are held accountable by pointing out the above faults and taking necessary disciplinary actions. Disciplinary action may range from a warning for the least serious examples of malpractice to loss of license for the most serious ones. In the case of shoulder dystocia caused by negligence, which may be fatal, loss of license could be the most viable form of punishment.

2. Compensate Hurt Parents

The costs of shoulder dystocia can quickly add up, mainly if permanent injuries occur. A successful medical malpractice lawsuit will seek the monetary compensation you are entitled to, including the following:

  • All medical expenses related to the injury
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

The amount one can obtain as compensation varies, depending on law firms, locations, and written acts. For example, in Maryland, the amount of compensation you can receive for pain and suffering, also known as non-economic damages, is limited. Non-economic damages are limited to $905,000 in 2022. Economic damages are not limited. If the shoulder dystocia injury kills someone, the wrongful death lawsuit has a $1,380,000 cap. A knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney will address your concerns and questions while pursuing the best possible settlement on your behalf.

3. Compensate Hurt Baby

The baby can sustain a variety of injuries as a result of shoulder dystocia complications. The following are some examples of such injuries:

  • Injuries to the brachial plexus: Occur when a doctor pushes or pulls the baby’s head too hard during childbirth or when the baby suffers from shoulder dystocia. The brachial plexus comprises a network of nerves located in the shoulder that transmit signals from the brain to the arm. If the nerves are damaged, the arm may lose its ability to function.

  • Loss of arm or shoulder: Excessive shoulder trauma may result in permanent loss of use of the injured arm or shoulder.
  • Erb’s palsy: Nerve damage to the brachial plexus that can cause arm or leg weakness or paralysis.
  • Death: If the baby becomes stuck and the medical team cannot resolve the issue quickly enough, or if the baby suffers too much trauma, the infant may die.

These are a few of the many injuries that shoulder dystocia can cause.

By bringing them to light during a court case, it is possible to get compensation through proper medical care for the baby or proper funeral services provided in the event of death.

4. Shed Light on Ways of Avoiding Shoulder Dystocia

The condition and its effects on both the mother and baby have been well described from the information above. However, how can shoulder dystocia be avoided generally?

Unfortunately, shoulder dystocia is known to be unpredictable; hence, little can be done to avoid it. Nonetheless, there are some precautions that health providers can take to manage it once it occurs.

Below are some of the options doctors and nurses use to manage the condition;

  • If your doctor or midwife suspects you have shoulder dystocia, they will tell you to stop pushing immediately. They will immediately call for assistance, as you or the baby may require the care of other specialists.
  • Changing the patient’s position can sometimes free the shoulder. She (the mother) may be asked to lie flat on her back with her knees as far back as they will go. To help free the baby’s shoulder, the midwife or doctor will gently press on her tummy. The ‘McRoberts maneuver’ is what it’s called.
  • Another position that can help is asking the patient to get on all fours. The midwife or doctor may need to insert their hand into the mother’s vagina to free the baby’s body. In such a case, the patient will first require an episiotomy.

In extreme cases, the doctor may need to break the baby’s collarbone to extract them. It will quickly heal after that. The mother also has the option of having a cesarean under general anesthesia. The baby will be pushed back into the uterus and delivered through the tummy after the anesthetic has taken effect. Both of these options are only available as a last resort.


Reporting cases of shoulder dystocia occurring due to negligence may prompt doctors and patients to learn more about the condition, why it’s considered dangerous, and ways of avoiding it all together.

It also considers the well-being of the mother and the affected baby. Apart from compensating affected persons, filing lawsuits help prevent more cases of negligence in the health sector, not only for shoulder dystocia but also for other high-risk conditions.

It is also advisable that patients get vast knowledge of different laws regarding health so as to make sure they receive the best services while being treated. In the event of bad service, they are able to contact appropriate legal firms for further assistance.

Categories: Health

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].