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Medical Verdicts


No Ob available for shoulder dystocia

December 2004 · Vol. 16, No. 12

<court>Undisclosed County (Va) Court</court>

By 37 weeks’ gestation, a woman who experienced shoulder dystocia and macrosomia with her first pregnancy had a 56-pound weight gain and an estimated fetal weight of greater than 8 pounds. Despite a request for cesarean delivery, she was scheduled for labor induction at 38 weeks.

Due to the complications with her first child, both a midwife and obstetrician were slated to be present for the delivery. At the time of the scheduled induction, however, the physician was investigating psychiatric care for his wife, and asked another obstetrician to cover. That physician, however, was available only for portions of the day in question. None of these changes were communicated to the mother.

Despite an awareness of the Ob scheduling problems, the midwife proceeded with the induction; delivery was complicated by shoulder dystocia. With no obstetrician available, the midwife performed the McRoberts and Wood’s maneuvers. The infant was born with Erb palsy and loss of function in her left arm.

The plaintiffs sued the scheduled obstetrician, claiming he did not arrange for adequate coverage. They also named the midwife, alleging she failed to ensure an obstetrician was present for delivery and that she used excessive force in attempting to dislodge the child’s shoulder.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiffs $3.09 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.

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