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Brachial Plexus Injury During Delivery

CATEGORIES: Birth Injury Shoulder Dystocia CASE LOCATION: Cambria Co., PA. CLASSIFICATION: Substantial Recoveries

The Little Case

In the summer of 2007, Ms. Little was pregnant and began to go into labor. She went to the hospital where a nurse mid-wife began attending to her delivery. Ms. Little began to deliver the baby, however the baby, Abigail, proceeded down the vaginal tract and her head started to delivery, but her shoulder did not follow. Abigail was stuck.

This is a condition known as a shoulder dystocia which happens when the baby’s shoulders get stuck behind the mother’s pubic bone, halting the delivery.

This is a medical emergency and there are specific maneuvers that a doctor or nurse mid-wife are to undertake to aid in the delivery. However, in this case, the nurse mid-wife began to panic about the baby not happening, and began to do one thing that should never be done, and pulled on Abigail’s head.

When a baby is stuck, pulling on the head can cause serious damage to a bundle of nerves in the baby’s neck called the brachial plexus nerves. These nerves can be stretched, torn or severed, leaving a baby with a permanent injury. In addition, the nurse mid-wife, contrary to her medical instructional texts, told Ms. Little to push while she pulled, which only resulted in Abigail being stuck further.

After about three or four minutes of this, a call was made to an obstetrician who rushed into the delivery room, quickly relieved the shoulder dystocia and delivered Abigail. However, Abigail was left with a permanent, life-long injury to her left shoulder. The nerves running from Abigail’s neck down to her shoulder and through her arm were so severely bruised that her hand, her arm, her wrist, her elbow, as well as the left side of her face have been affected.

A lawsuit was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Cambria County, and the depositions of the nurse mid-wife, obstetrician and nurses were taken. The case was listed for trial, and a few weeks prior to trial the case settled for a substantial settlement.