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Written on 26th March 2020

Boyes Turner’s birth injury lawyers have secured an admission of liability for a two-year-old girl with Erb’s palsy which was caused by the defendant hospital’s obstetric staff’s negligent management of her birth.

Planning the birth

The claimant’s mother was booked for delivery at the defendant hospital in her first pregnancy. She had a high BMI and was seen by a consultant who noted that a vaginal delivery would be attempted but a caesarean section might be required. Three ultrasound scans in the third trimester of her pregnancy all estimated the fetal weight to be above the 90th centile (higher than that of 90% of the population) with an expected full-term weight of around 4.7kg. The baby was noted to have fetal macrosomia – a condition which is often associated with complications at birth, including shoulder dystocia and brachial plexus injury. Induction of labour was booked to take place at 40 weeks.

Going into labour

At 39 weeks, the claimant’s mother attended hospital with clear fluid draining vaginally. Induction of labour was brought forward to the next day but her contractions started that evening and she was admitted to hospital in labour. Later that evening she was transferred to the labour ward and was given an epidural, however, she remained in pain throughout the labour. In the early hours of the morning she reached the second stage of labour; her cervix was fully dilated and she was feeling the urge to push.

After an hour of pushing, she requested a forceps delivery but this was refused by the obstetric registrar. A further hour later, the registrar transferred her to theatre where it was confirmed that her epidural had not worked and she was given a spinal anaesthetic. The registrar delivered the baby by forceps a further half an hour later, noting difficulties in delivering the baby, including the characteristic ‘turtle sign’ when the baby’s head retracts back after it has emerged from the vagina indicating that the baby’s anterior shoulder is being caught on the maternal pubic bone preventing delivery. Without calling for help, changing the mother’s position to flex her legs back against the abdomen into the ‘McRoberts position’ or applying suprapubic pressure to try to move the baby’s anterior shoulder – all of which are standard, correct procedures for dealing with shoulder dystocia at delivery  -  the registrar achieved delivery of the claimant by traction (pulling).

After delivery and the claim

After delivery the claimant had no movement of her right arm. The medical records confirmed a ‘massive shoulder dystocia’. She has a right sided brachial plexus injury.

Boyes Turner served a letter of claim on the defendant hospital, which admitted liability for the claimant’s injury. Given the claimant’s age, it is still too soon to assess properly the full extent and lifelong impact of her condition but an immediate interim payment will be sought to provide for her urgent needs resulting from the injury whilst Boyes Turner work with her family and our experts to assess the full value the claim.

If you or someone you care for have suffered severe injury or disability from birth trauma and you would like to discuss making a claim, call our expert birth injury lawyers by email at