Grandma’s videotape disputes OB’s account of dystocia
<court>Middlesex County (NJ) Superior Court</court>
A child suffered Erb’s palsy following shoulder dystocia encountered during delivery. As a result, he cannot fully extend, rotate, or raise his right arm, which is 1 inch shorter than his left.
The defendant Ob/Gyn contended that, in an effort to dislodge the shoulder, he applied gentle downward traction with his fingers. He also argued that an intrauterine event led to the injury.
However, videotape of the birth taken by the plaintiff’s grandmother showed the physician pushing down on the child’s head with both hands, rotating the head, then applying additional traction. After the infant’s birth, the physician is shown raising and releasing the affected arm, which fell limply to the child’s side.
This footage conflicted with the physician’s notes, which did not indicate the second application of traction or the examination of the right arm.
The plaintiff maintained that excessive force at birth was responsible for the Erb’s palsy and sequelae.
- The jury awarded the plaintiff $1.05 million.
The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn. (www.verdictslaska.com) While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.