Case #4045 Erb's Palsy


On the evening of February 4, the Plaintiff was admitted to the Defendant Hospital in labor.  At that time, she was 38 weeks and three centimeters dilated.  It is further alleged that had duly authorized agents and/or employees of the Defendants acted in conformity with the standards of care, they would have known that the Plaintiff was carrying a macrosomic child, and prepared accordingly.

It is alleged that the Plaintiff was being cared for by nurse midwives, as well as a student nurse midwife during the course of her labor.  No consideration for cesarean section was given and no adequate preparation for an attempted vaginal birth of a large baby was provided.  In fact, during labor there were indications of fetal tachycardia as well as the presence of meconium, which in and of itself required supervision by an obstetrician which these Defendants failed to provide.

It is alleged that duly authorized agents and/or employees of the Defendants negligently failed to contact an attending obstetrician/gynecologist in a timely manner.  It was not until late in the labor process that an attending obstetrician was contacted about the maternal patient, but at no time was that attending obstetrician contacted earlier, nor was the attending obstetrician ever requested to assess the patient at the bedside at any point prior to the actual delivery.  Had an attending been consulted in conformity with the standards of care, he or she would have determined the fetal weight, realized that the mother was carrying a macrosomic infant, and proceeded with a judiciously timed Cesarean Section delivery to avoid the shoulder dystocia and resulting Erb’s Palsy that ensued.

In violation of the standards of care, these Defendants persisted in attempting a vaginal birth which ultimately occurred at approximately 7:50 p.m. on February 5.  However, because of the very large size of the baby (which these Defendants negligently failed to ascertain), the baby was unable to negotiate the birth canal safely, experienced shoulder dystocia and became entrapped as her head presented.  At that time, it is alleged that duly authorized agents and/or employees of the Defendants — including but not limited to a nurse midwife — negligently failed to birth the child in conformity with the standards of care.  It is asserted that when the shoulder dystocia was encountered, certain maneuvers had to be completed in an appropriate fashion.  Further, it is asserted that excess traction on the baby’s head had to be avoided in accordance with the standards of care to avoid any permanent injury to the brachial plexus which innervates the child’s arm.  However, contrary to the standards of care, these Defendants negligently utilized excessive traction and damaged the baby’s brachial plexus, resulting in an Erb’s Palsy.

It is alleged that during the actual delivery process, these Defendants, including their duly authorized agents, servants and employees, failed to appropriately manage the shoulder dystocia when it occurred.  Appropriate maneuvers were not utilized and undue traction was placed on the fetal head, resulting in a brachial plexus injury with resulting Erb’s Palsy.

It is alleged that the negligence on the part of these Defendants was so severe, that the Erb’s Palsy was complete.  When the baby was first born, it was obvious to those present that the baby was unable to use her right arm at all.  The hospital records indicate that there was no “spontaneous movement” and further noted bruising on the arm, due to the negligence of these Defendants.

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