Georgia Mother Blames Son’s Injuries on Botched Vacuum-Assisted Delivery

Sarah May | April 15th, 2016 | Posted in Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit News

Birth Injury LawsuitsA lawsuit has been filed in federal court by a Georgia mother as a result of the medical care she received during her son’s labor and delivery in February, 2011. The complaint argues that negligence on the part of attending physicians and nurses, such as error-riddled efforts at vacuum-assisted extraction, caused her child to suffer a serious brachial plexus injury and lasting impairments.

Basis of plaintiff’s birth injury lawsuit

The lawsuit states that the plaintiff mother arrived at the labor and delivery suites just one day shy of 40 weeks. She had gained a significant amount of weight during her pregnancy and presented to the department at 5’4” and 185 pounds. According to available records, the patient reported that she had experienced a rupture of her membranes at 11:30 p.m., though for some reason, the department’s flow sheet suggests that an artificial rupture was performed at 12:33 a.m. the next day. Examination of the patient revealed estimated fetal weight of 8.5 pounds.

Following hours of almost no change in dilation, no fetal descent whatsoever was noted. A little after 5:00 a.m., the patient was noted to be experiencing marked contractions characterized by late deceleration. Oddly, there were no changes made to the course of treatment ordered. By 8:45 a.m., there had still been virtually no changes in dilation or fetal descent. The patient was given Pitocin, but administration of the drug was almost instantly halted for a reason which was not included in her chart. From 8:45 a.m. onward, no further chart entries exist concerning fetal descent or dilation.

Fetal monitoring strips reveal that by noon of that day, the patient had begun pushing, though prolonged decelerations had been observed. The tracings show that this pattern was repeated with each contraction. The patient was continuing to push by 2:06 p.m., but just before 2:30 p.m., vacuum-assisted extraction was attempted on no fewer than three distinct instances. However, no specifics of the attempts were placed into the patient’s chart.

At 2:30 p.m., the patient vaginally delivered her baby boy. According to the chart, he suffered complications that included shoulder dystocia and manual releasing of posterior and anterior shoulders. His clavicle had been fractured and he also sustained left brachial plexus damage which the plaintiff argues resulted in permanent functional impairment.

Delivery room negligence allegations

The mother is alleging that she received substandard care from labor and delivery staff characterized by their failure to promptly identify and address her personal risk factors, provide continuous and appropriate monitoring and appreciate the dangers of shoulder dystocia. It is also alleged that the vacuum-assisted extraction attempts were made in a negligent manner and in contravention of recognized standards and known maneuvers designed to safely free the baby’s shoulders.

Because of these negligent acts and omissions, the plaintiff mother is now seeking financial compensation to include payment for mental anguish and physical pain suffered by the boy, payment for his disfigurement and ongoing impairment, payment for medical costs, lost earning potential and other damages to be determined.

Shoulder dystocia and disability

There can be little doubt that shoulder dystocia is one of the most notable complications that can arise during labor and delivery. It happens when an infant’s shoulders become wedged behind the mother’s pubic bone, preventing normal descent. If the condition is not swiftly identified and emergency techniques employed, the result is often profound, sometimes permanent disability.

Shoulder dystocia is known to cause serious concerns including bone fractures, Erb’s palsy, cerebral palsy as well as paralysis. When problematic cases of shoulder dystocia are presented, it is often necessary for physicians to order emergency delivery via C-section if severe damage is to be avoided.

Compassionate, aggressive advocacy for birth injury victims

When a young child must bear the consequences of preventable medical negligence, it is vital that they have an advocate on their side who will pursue compensation and accountability from those responsible.

If your family has experienced the heartbreak of a severe labor and delivery injury, we at Balkin & Eisbrouch want you to know that help is available. Though no financial award can ever erase the pain you have suffered, we will fight to secure the resources necessary to meet the inevitable burdens ahead. For a no-cost consultation, contact us at 1-855-60-BIRTH.


  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons - OrthoInfo, Erb's Palsy (Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy), http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00077

  2. Mayo Clinic, Vacuum extraction risks, http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/vacuum-extraction/basics/risks/prc-20020448

  3. Medline Plus, Brachial plexus injury in newborns, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001395.htm