During some births, medical professionals will choose to use forceps to help deliver the baby. This is called “assisted delivery.” A doctor may use forceps in situations where, for example, the baby is facing the wrong direction or doesn’t naturally progress down the birth canal.
Forceps use is typically safe and can even save a baby’s life by preventing oxygen deprivation; however, sometimes the force involved in using this assistive device causes injury to the infant. While many of these injuries are minor, others can cause lifelong, permanent damage.
If your child was injured by the improper use of forceps during childbirth, you may be able to hold the medical professional and/or hospital accountable for their negligence.
How Do Forceps Work?
Forceps are instruments that are used to pull the baby out of the birth canal. For most models, one end is curved to wrap around the baby’s head and connects at the base like a pair of scissors. Some forceps are designed to avoid being placed too far inside the mother’s body.
Forceps can be used when the baby is in distress or the mother is having difficulty delivering the baby. The obstetrician must use the forceps carefully to help guide the baby through the pelvis. In order to ensure safety, the mother must be fully dilated and membranes must be ruptured.
The use of forceps would not be appropriate with cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD), where the baby’s head is too large to pass through the mother’s pelvis.
In the hands of a competent obstetrician, delivery by forceps can be quick, painless and safe. Sometimes, forceps are necessary in the event of difficult or emergency deliveries. Improperly used, however, they can cause significant permanent injuries to mother and child.
Birth injuries caused by improper use of forceps are somewhat less common than those caused by vacuum extractors simply because physicians are less likely to use forceps in an instrument-assisted birth. Still, birth injuries can and do result from negligent use of both instruments.
Contact the Ohio forceps birth injury lawyers at The Becker Law Firm if your child suffered serious injuries as a result of negligent forceps use. Call us at (440) 252-4399 to discuss your case in a free initial consultation.
Forceps Delivery Risks
Common birth injuries caused by forceps delivery include bruising, tissue damage, swelling and bone fractures. Other possible and more serious injuries include:
- Facial nerve palsy
- Skull fracture
- Brain damage
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Developmental delays
- Cerebral palsy
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Improper use of forceps can also cause serious injuries to the mother.
Forceps Use vs. Vacuum Extraction
The choice between forceps and vacuum is hotly debated in the obstetrical community. Many studies show that they have equal rates of injuries. However, a vacuum likely has a higher rate of cephalohematoma and shoulder dystocia, while forceps use leads to a higher rate of facial nerve palsies and maternal injuries. The most important factor is experience and comfort level.
Establishing Negligence in Your Case
To win a lawsuit for a birth injury caused by the misuse of forceps, you must show that the medical professional’s negligence caused the injury. Determining whether the doctor used the forceps negligently can be difficult, and will require uncovering answers to questions like:
- Did the medical professional use the correct forceps (there are various kinds)?
- Did the medical professional follow the standard of care required of them?
- Would the infant have avoided injury if the doctor had not acted negligently?
If you believe your child's injuries were caused as a result of medical negligence, it is important that you discuss your case with an attorney at our firm. We will take the time to analyze the details and determine if you have the right to seek legal action. Additionally, we will consider who may be held liable and if the cause of your child's injuries was the negligent use of birthing forceps.
You may be eligible to receive compensation for the medical costs you have incurred, including future expenses if the injuries are long-term. Additionally, you could be entitled to compensation that covers pain and suffering, mental anguish, reduced quality of life, and more.
Call The Becker Law Firm at (440) 252-4399 to learn more about your options.