If a doctor or other medical professional failed to follow the proper standards of care and your baby suffered as a result, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. A Hudson Valley shoulder dystocia lawyer could examine the medical records to determine the cause of your baby’s injury. If they believe the doctor’s actions constitute medical malpractice, an experienced attorney could pursue compensation on your behalf.

What is Shoulder Dystocia?

Shoulder dystocia is the compression of the shoulder during the birth process because there is not enough room for the shoulders to fit through the birth canal. Shoulder dystocia could result in Erb’s palsy, a nerve injury to the arm. When the doctor pulls on a baby’s head, the baby’s shoulders get stuck within the pelvis and are not coming through the pelvic canal. That could result in a stretching or injury to the nerve called a brachial plexus injury.

If the child suffered a nerve injury due to shoulder dystocia, they may not be able to move their arm or the arm will be limp. As the baby gets older, the parents would notice that the baby is not using their arm or that the arm could only be lifted to a certain level.


When the baby’s shoulders are stuck within the birth canal, the most common treatment by a doctor is a procedure called the McRoberts maneuver. The doctor puts his hand inside the mother and twists the baby at an angle to try to give a better angle for the baby to fit through the birth canal. There are many other types of procedures like that. For example, the mother’s legs could be stretched up towards her chest, which helps widen the space of the pelvis that the baby fits through. The worst thing that could be done is pulling or excessive lateral traction on the baby’s head, because that could result in stretching or shearing of the nerves in the arm.

How Are Doctors Held Accountable?

To ensure that they are upholding the reasonable standard of care, medical professionals should document in their delivery note when they apply all the proper procedures to address shoulder dystocia. For example, were the mother’s knees flexed all the way back to her chest? Did the doctor use the McRoberts maneuver to try to switch the position of the baby’s shoulder to get a wider space for the shoulders to fit through the birth canal? If they failed to take these steps, it could result in injury to the child’s brachial plexus or shoulder.

Investigating Shoulder Dystocia

If a parent believes that the doctor or medical professionals could have done more for them and their baby, an experienced Hudson Valley shoulder dystocia attorney could help by getting the delivery records of the mother and baby. The attorney would determine whether the baby has a diagnosis of Erb’s palsy, and if so, look at the delivery note of the obstetrician or nurse midwife to determine if excessive lateral traction or pulling on the baby’s head was applied.

If there is no evidence of pulling on the baby’s head in the delivery note, which is often the case, the attorney would speak with the family members who were present at the time of the delivery to find out whether they witnessed pulling on the baby’s head. Oftentimes, the doctors and nurses would not document that in the delivery note.

Advantages of Hiring a Proven Shoulder Dystocia Attorney

Birth injury malpractice victims should consider seeking an attorney with specific experience handling shoulder dystocia cases. A Hudson Valley shoulder dystocia lawyer understands what medical records and documentation they need to prove malpractice in a birth injury case. Contact an attorney today to schedule a consultation and begin fighting for fair compensation for your family’s suffering.