Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Does the HELPER Mnemonic Really Help in Bellevue?

Posted Friday, March 17, 2023 by Chris Thayer

Roughly 10% of the deliveries in King County hospitals involve shoulder dystocia or another serious complication. SD occurs if a baby’s shoulders are so broad the baby cannot naturally drift down the mother’s birth canal.

If that happens, the umbilical cord cuts off oxygen to the baby’s brain. The resulting hypoxia (lack of oxygen) could cause cerebral palsy in less than five minutes.

When things go wrong in the delivery room, a catch mnemonic device does not always save the day. CP infants have permanent brain damage, which ranges from barely noticeable to completely debilitating. Only a Bellevue personal injury attorney can obtain the compensation these victims need and deserve in court. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Since doctors have such a high duty of care in Washington, a Bellevue personal injury attorney can often obtain additional punitive damages as well. Like the old saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

*HELP: Call for Help*The first step of any journey, including the journey to prevent SD-related cerebral palsy, is often the most important one. Unfortunately, doctors often skip this step.

Many doctors are overconfident. They believe they do not need help. That is also the reason many doctors dismiss SD red flags during prenatal care visits. Beneath the surface, many doctors also believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness.

Additionally, help is not always available. That is especially true during nights, weekends, holidays, and other low-census periods. Because of the aforementioned duty of care, doctors cannot pawn their failures onto someone else, like a nurse who does not follow instructions or a hospital administrator who permits understaffing.

*EPISIOTOMY*Frankly, we are amazed this step is still in this mnemonic. Back in the day, doctors routinely cut the mother’s perineum (area between the anus and genitals) to widen her birth canal. According to the most recent research, however, these incisions are ineffective and unsafe.

*LEGS: McRoberts Maneuver*In about eight out of ten cases, simply lifting the mother’s legs and bending her knees moves a stuck baby down the birth canal. So, this intervention should probably be earlier. But it is not. Additionally, it only works most of the time. If the maneuver fails, which is not uncommon, more precious time ticks off the SD cerebral palsy clock.

*PRESSURE: Apply Suprapubic Pressure*As we near the end of the countdown, medical interventions are increasingly desperate. Applying suprapubic pressure is a little like performing CPR on a mother’s abdomen. Doctors hope that by poking and prodding, they can force the baby lower.

A Bellevue personal injury attorney often gets involved at this point. Even if these babies don’t have cerebral palsy, the additional pressure often causes head injuries and other such injuries. Tiny babies are so vulnerable that a little bit of force often causes a severe injury.

*ENTER MANEUVERS: Internal Rotation*This step is like advanced CPR. Instead of poking and prodding, doctors try to turn the baby. Usually, they perform this advanced maneuver blind. Therefore, the chances of success are minimal. But since the five minutes are almost up, doctors are willing to try almost anything at this point.

*REMOVE the Posterior Arm*Frequently, the baby is low enough that a limb, usually an arm, is exposed. If doctors remove that limb, a partially successful birth might still be possible. Basically, a doctor plays God and decides that the certainty of losing an arm is better than the possibility of severe cerebral palsy.

*Work With a Diligent King County Attorney*Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Bellevue, contact Pivotal Law Group, PLLC. We routinely handle matters throughout Washington State.