Legal: Excessive traction blamed for Erb's palsy

May 1, 2009

After complicated delivery with shoulder dystocia, child sustains posterior brachial plexus injury, resulting in Erb's palsy.

In 2003, the delivery of a child in an Illinois hospital was complicated by a shoulder dystocia. A McRoberts maneuver and suprapubic pressure were used to effect delivery of the shoulders and the infant was delivered within 40 seconds once the dystocia was recognized. The child sustained a posterior brachial plexus injury, resulting in Erb's palsy.

The patient sued the obstetrician and claimed the injury was due to the excessive traction used.

Arguing that the injury was due to the posterior shoulder becoming impacted on the sacral promontory, the physician countered that appropriate measures were used to dislodge it and that the occurrence was unpredictable and thus unavoidable. This resulted in a defense verdict.