Medical Verdicts

Excessive lateral traction blamed for Erb’s palsy


Hillsborough County (Md) Circuit Court—A gravida underwent induction of labor, during which shoulder dystocia was encountered. The obstetrician performed 3 different maneuvers in an attempt to release the shoulder and deliver the baby. He eventually was successful.

In suing, the parents alleged that the Ob/Gyn applied excessive lateral traction by pulling the head downward with such force that it tore the nerves in the infant’s neck, causing Erb’s palsy. In defense, the physician claimed the injury was the result of the natural expulsion forces of labor combined with non-negligent lateral traction, which was necessary for delivery.

The jury awarded the parents $1.5 million.

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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