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Shoulder Dystocia

Shoulder dystocia is the medical term used to describe the situation whereby a baby’s head has been born but one of the shoulders has become stuck, leading to a delayed birth. In this situation a doctor or midwife will need to help the delivery along.

Possible risk factors for Shoulder dystocia

  • Large Baby
  • High maternal body mass index
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Prolonged labour


Babies whose shoulder dystocia is not properly managed can suffer an injury called Erb’s Palsy – see below.

Other injuries may be caused to the baby’s collar bone or in a worst case scenario the delayed delivery may lead to a brain injury or even death.

Types of claims that Hodge Jones Allen have dealt with:

  • Failure to offer caesarean section – In some cases we have successfully argued that due to the size of the baby the mother should have been offered a C-section – which would have avoided the shoulder dystocia episode.
  • Failure to perform the McRoberts manoeuvre – This manoeuvre is taught to all doctors and midwives. When performed it eases the birth of the baby and hopefully avoids injuries such as Erb’s palsy (see below).

Erb’s Palsy

Erb’s palsy is type of nerve injury that sadly affects one or two babies out of every one thousand births.

The injury affects the brachial plexus – which is a network of nerves which enable us to control our arms, hands and fingers.

At the time of birth (especially during an urgently required birth) the baby’s brachial plexus may be injured – usually by the head/ neck area being subject to extreme force The causes of the injury are well known and techniques have been introduced to try to avoid this type of harm.

Possible causes of Erb’s palsy

  • Incorrect use of forceps
  • Excessive force
  • Failure to correctly perform the McRoberts manoeuvre
  • Large baby – failure to advise of C-section

Compensation for Erb’s palsy

Compensation for Erb’s palsy is likely to be substantial. The claim will comprise of general damages (damages for the injury itself) as well as special damages.

Special damages is the compensation paid for financial losses.

Erb’s palsy may lead to an inability to undertake certain jobs and damages will be awarded to compensate the injured claimant. The claimant may also require aids and equipment to assist with daily living. There may be a need to employ decorators or handymen for DIY tasks or even a gardener. Compensation will also be paid if there is a need for surgery in the private sector or for future private physiotherapy.

Substantial damages will be awarded as it is recognised that this is a permanent injury which will affect the Claimant for the rest of their lives.

Birth injury claims with Hodge Jones Allen

Our highly experienced team of specialist medical negligence solicitors are here to assist and to advise. They will advise you comprehensively about the merits of your claim, funding and ensure that you and your family get the best possible results.

The majority of our birth injury baby cases are funded by Legal Aid. Other cases are funded by way of a conditional fee agreement, more commonly known as a no win no fee agreement. This means there is no financial risk to you.

Our Medical Negligence Solicitors are backed by four decades of experience. Our legal practice and team of London Solicitors have a strong track record of achieving favourable client outcomes. For expert legal advice use our contact form or call us on 0800 437 0322 today.

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Address:Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors
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