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Brachial Plexus Injury Due to Negligent Delivery

Lawsuit Against Mountainview Regional Medical Center | July 16, 2020

On July 16, 2020, WVFO attorney Sharon Morgan filed a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a minor child who suffered a brachial plexus injury.

The complaint alleges that the child’s mother gained a significant amount of weight during her pregnancy. The pregnancy became so difficult that the mother requested a cesarean section at one point, however, the procedure was not performed. On January 18, 2018, the mother presented to Mountainview Regional Medical Center due to spontaneous rupture of membranes at home along with contractions. She was admitted and placed on an external fetal monitor. The fetal heart tracing was a normal Category I tracing for the majority of labor. At about 11:41 a.m., the baby’s head crowned and was delivered one minute later at 11:42 a.m. Once the baby’s head was delivered, his right shoulder became lodged under the mother’s pubic bone causing a shoulder dystocia. The medical records note the shoulder dystocia event, claiming it occurred about one minute after the head was delivered. The nurse noted that the shoulder dystocia was relieved within one minute simply by lowering the head of the bed and bringing mom’s knees to her chest in what is referred to as a McRoberts maneuver, and by her applying “gentle” traction while mom was pushing, to free the baby’s shoulder. At 11:43 a.m., the child was born. Nursing assessment notes described the child as having “caput”, and “molding” of his head. He was noted to be large for gestational age, weighing 8 lbs. 4.2 oz. His entire right arm, hand and fingers were flaccid, with no spontaneous movements noted during his newborn admission. Other than the obvious and severe injury affecting his right arm, hand and fingers, he had a normal newborn course. Over the next few months, the child had essentially no use of his right upper extremity. He also developed torticollis, a condition where contracted neck muscles cause the head to twist to one side. Because his head was twisted to one side, it caused a flattening of one side due to the extra pressure when lying down. This flattening is a condition known as plagiocephaly. The child underwent surgery to repair a “right global brachial plexus palsy with suboptimal recovery and tight shoulder, with nerve transfers, and an open shoulder release.” During the surgery the doctor discovered that all 5 nerve roots of the brachial plexus were involved to varying degrees. The nature, extent and severity of the injuries to the child’s cervical spinal nerves is known to occur when too much pulling on a baby’s head is applied, while it’s shoulder is wedged behind the maternal pubic bone during a shoulder dystocia. This pulling results in over stretching of the nerves in the neck, causing the nerves to be torn from the nerve roots.

The child has only minimal use of his right shoulder, arm, hand and fingers, as a result of the negligence of Mountainview Regional Medical Center and its employees. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants negligently caused the child to suffer a brachial plexus injury. The child suffered permanent injuries and will require significant medical care for the rest of his life.

The action is pending in the Third Judicial District Court for Dona Ana County, New Mexico.

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