The Supreme Court of Iowa affirmed the judgment of the district court dismissing the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims against the medical provider defendants, holding that there was no reversible error.
The child involved in this case is identified as T.D., who was born Aug. 31, 2007 at the Henry County Health Center. Dr. James Widner, employed by Family Medicine of Mt. Pleasant P.C., was the physician in charge of T.D.’s prenatal care and delivery.
During labor and delivery, the child’s shoulder became stuck on his mother’s pelvis. The defendant physicians and nurses performed maneuvers to resolve the stuck shoulder. However, the plaintiff child T.D. was born with a permanent nerve injury, brachial plexus, preventing the normal use and function of the child’s left arm. Shoulder dystocia is a birth injury that occurs in cases just like this, when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck inside the mother’s pelvis. This condition is a medical emergency because the infant’s delay in birth may cause severe brain damage or death if not resolved in six minutes or less. Dr. Widner and the nurses performed maneuvers that resolved the shoulder dystocia in one minute and ten seconds. However, T.D. was born with a permanent injury to his left shoulder and arm, a nerve injury referred to as a brachial plexus that prevents normal use and function of his arm. T.D.’s delivery was captured on a 21-minute birth video recorded by T.D.’s aunt.