Legal: Patient with history of shoulder dystocia alleges failure to offer C/S

September 1, 2008

A 32-year-old woman pregnant with her third child and with a history of shoulder dystocia was not offered a cesarean section delivery.

A 32-year-old Massachusetts woman was pregnant with her third child. She had a prior history of gestational diabetes and prior delivery of large infants. Her second delivery was complicated by shoulder dystocia. The patient received nutritional counseling and frequent blood glucose level monitoring during her pregnancy. An ultrasound performed at 32 weeks revealed an estimated fetal weight in the 85th percentile. She went into labor at 37 weeks and delivered vaginally with a severe shoulder dystocia. The newborn had no movement of the left arm and was diagnosed with a complete left brachial plexus injury with permanent loss of mobility.

In the lawsuit that followed this delivery, the patient claimed the physicians failed to discuss the risk of recurrent shoulder dystocia and failed to offer or recommend a cesarean section.

The physicians denied any negligence in her care, but an $850,000 settlement was reached.