Medical Verdicts

Was obstetrician negligent for not predicting dystocia?


Cook County (Ill) Circuit Court—An Ob/Gyn vaginally delivered an infant weighing 10 lb, 11 oz. During the delivery, shoulder dystocia occurred. The child suffered Erb’s palsy and Klumpke’s paralysis in his right arm. The mother sustained a fourth-degree laceration and subsequently developed a rectovaginal fistula, which required repair.

The woman sued, claiming the Ob/Gyn should have performed a cesarean delivery because of her history of fibroids and obesity, the fetus’ accelerated growth rate, and arrest of descent during labor, which required the use of oxytocin. She argued that the physician attempted vacuum extraction without a clinical indication and used improper delivery maneuvers and fundal pressure.

According to the defense, the pregnancy was normal. The fibroids did not pose a problem, and the ultrasounds showed normal fetal growth. In addition to contending that the dystocia was severe and unpredictable, the defendant testified that all delivery maneuvers were correct, fundal pressure wasn’t used, and the rectovaginal fistula was a known complication of the repair of a fourth-degree laceration.

The jury returned a defense verdict.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. 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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