Medical Verdicts

Was resident qualified for dystocia delivery?


Kings County (NY) Supreme Court

Following oxytocin administration for induction of labor, a 21-year-old woman at 43 weeks of gestation was brought to the delivery room. The attending physician and a first-year resident were present.

The delivery was complicated by shoulder dystocia. Thus the resident, under supervision of the attending doctor, attempted to dislodge the shoulder using the McRoberts maneuver, suprapubic pressure, and the Woods corkscrew maneuver—none of which she had performed previously for dystocia.

At birth the child had an Apgar score of 9; no fetal injury was noted. Once in the pediatrics unit, however, the infant received a diagnosis of Erb’s palsy. The child now has limited range of motion and contracture of the elbow in the affected arm.

In suing, the plaintiff claimed the attending physician, not the resident, should have delivered the child.

The attending physician maintained the resident was qualified to perform the delivery; she argued that the child’s injuries occurred in utero.

  • The jury awarded the plaintiff $2.2 million, and found the attending physician 95% responsible. The resident physician settled for $250,000.
The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn ( 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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