Prevention of brachial plexus injury-12 years of shoulder dystocia training: an interrupted time-series study

BJOG. 2016 Jan;123(1):111-8. doi: 10.1111/1471-0528.13302. Epub 2015 Feb 17.


Objective: To investigate management and outcomes of incidences of shoulder dystocia in the 12 years following the introduction of an obstetric emergencies training programme.

Design: Interrupted time-series study comparing management and neonatal outcome of births complicated by shoulder dystocia over three 4-year periods: (i) Pre-training (1996-99), (ii) Early training (2001-04), and (iii) Late training (2009-12).

Setting: Southmead Hospital, Bristol, UK, with approximately 6000 births per annum.

Population: Infants and their mothers who experienced shoulder dystocia.

Method: A bi-monthly multi-professional 1-day intrapartum emergencies training course, that included a 30-minute practical session on shoulder dystocia management, commenced in 2000.

Main outcomes: Neonatal morbidity (brachial plexus injury, humeral fracture, clavicular fracture, 5-minute Apgar score <7) and documented management of shoulder dystocia (resolution manoeuvres performed, traction applied, head-to-body delivery interval).

Results: Compliance with national guidance improved with continued training. At least one recognised resolution manoeuvre was used in 99.8% (561/562) of cases of shoulder dystocia in the late training period, demonstrating a continued improvement from 46.3% (150/324, P < 0.001) pre-training, and 92% (241/262, P < 0.001) in the early training period. In parallel there was reduction in the brachial plexus injury at birth (24/324 [7.4%, P < 0.01], pre-training, 6/262 [2.3%] early training, and 7/562 [1.3%] late training.

Conclusions: There are significant benefits to long-term, embedded training programmes with improvements in both management and outcomes. A decade after the introduction of training there were no cases of brachial plexus injury lasting over 12 months in 562 cases of shoulder dystocia.

Keywords: Brachial plexus injury; shoulder dystocia; simulation; training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Brachial Plexus / injuries
  • Delivery, Obstetric / education*
  • Delivery, Obstetric / methods
  • Dystocia / prevention & control*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interrupted Time Series Analysis
  • Obstetrics / education*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Pregnancy
  • Shoulder Injuries
  • United Kingdom