New Trial for Obstetrician-Gynecologist in Shoulder Dystocia Case

September 9, 2020 | Strategic Insights for Health System


In a case in which a baby suffered a permanent brachial plexus injury stemming from shoulder dystocia during delivery, the Supreme Court of Texas has remanded the case for a new trial for consideration of whether the defendant obstetrician-gynecologist provided emergency medical care and whether he exhibited willful and wanton negligence. If he did provide emergency medical care, he could be held liable for the injury only if he exhibited willful and wanton negligence—not merely simple negligence—and if that negligence caused the injury.

The obstetrician-gynecologist provided prenatal care during the pregnancy. Because the mother had diabetes, he recommended induction of labor, and the parents accepted this recommendation. During delivery, both shoulder dystocia and a nuchal cord occurred. Because this combination endangers the baby's life, the doctor quickly attempted multiple maneuvers to dislodge the baby. The baby was delivered but...

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