For more information or confidential assistance
Call 800-306-3180

Parents Demand Justice For Child’s Brachial Plexus Injuries

infant holding parent's hand

Parents from South Carolina recently filed an Erb’s palsy lawsuit against Conway Medical Center, Inc., Olukayode Akinjala, M.D., and Health Partners of South Carolina, Inc.

They allege that their child’s birth injury was caused by the medical negligence of the facility’s healthcare providers. They demand a jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, Florence Division.

Physician induced labor with Pitocin

The family’s problems began when the mother began receiving prenatal care at the healthcare facility on September 29, 2011. At the time, she was at 36 weeks of gestation. At the time, the fetal fundal height was measured at 41 and her sonogram indicated the presence of polyhydramnios. Polyhydramnios is a condition in which there is excessive accumulation of amniotic fluid around the baby. While this condition can be mild and cause no problems, it may lead to complications such as premature birth, excessive fetal growth, premature rupture of membranes, and placental abruption. It can also cause heavy bleeding after delivery, umbilical cord prolapse, and stillbirth, and it may indicate the need to perform a Cesarean section.

The mother returned for another prenatal visit on October 6, at which time she learned of the results of the sonogram. The lawsuit notes that her medical records reflected a need for “labor precautions.” On October 18, the mother was admitted to the healthcare facility for the induction of labor. According to the Erb’s palsy lawsuit, she was never advised by her healthcare provider of the need for a C-section or the dangers of proceeding with a vaginal delivery.

Despite failing to inform the mother, the physician administered Pitocin, which is used to induce labor contractions. The mother was diagnosed as having hypertonic contractions throughout the night and the physician continued to order the administration of additional injections of Pitocin. The Pitocin dosages became increasingly higher. Additionally, the fetal heart rate monitor revealed that the baby had an abnormally accelerated heart rate. Despite the mother’s prolonged and difficult labor, and despite the signs of fetal distress, a C-section was never offered to the mother as an option.

Later in the evening, the labor contractions decelerated and it was noted that the fetal heart rate displayed tachycardia, which is a faster than normal heartbeat. However, against the widely accepted standards of medical care, the healthcare provider did not institute intrauterine resuscitation. Hours later, the physician used a vacuum device for the vaginal delivery, rather than perform a C-section. It was determined that the baby suffered from shoulder dystocia, in which the shoulder was lodged in the birth canal. The physician had to use multiple traumatic maneuvers to rotate the baby. Over the course of the Pitocin-induced labor, the possibility of birth injuries was never discussed with the mother.

Child suffers brachial plexus injuries

When the child was finally delivered, he was weighed at 10 lbs., 8 oz. It is not common for exceptionally large babies to be delivered vaginally, rather than by C-section. The child’s Apgar score was 2. His skin was blue and pale, he exhibited no respiration, and he was unresponsive. Shortly after delivery, it was determined that the baby had bruises around the right shoulder and exhibited little movement in the right arm. Despite this, the baby was discharged. The mother brought him to the emergency department a few days later, complaining of problems with the child’s right arm. At that point, he was diagnosed with Erb’s palsy, a type of brachial plexus injury. It involves injury to the nerves in the shoulder that can lead to paralysis of the arm and hand.

With their lawsuit, the parents demand that the doctor and hospital be held accountable for the acts of medical negligence that allegedly led to their child’s severe and debilitating injuries. They allege that the physician was negligent in administering Pitocin for a prolonged period and at an excessive dosage, when the fetus was already hyperstimulated. They also charge the physician with failing to advise the mother of C-section as an option, among other allegations.

  1. Mayo Clinic, Polyhydramnios,

  2. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Erb's Palsy (Brachial Plexus Birth Palsy),