Forceps are often used during labor and delivery to assist with the birthing process. Unfortunately they are frequently linked to birth injuries as well, which raises the question, Why are forceps commonly linked to birth injuries? In the article below we look at the answers.
Why Forceps are Used
Forceps are used during delivery to assist the mother in birthing the child. This device looks something like a large pair of spoons, and are designed to “cup” the baby’s head to guide it through the birth canal. This is most often done when there are difficulties with the birth process, such as:
- Labor is stalled despite cervical dilation and pushing
- The baby’s heartbeat or vital signs suggest complications
- The mother’s health becomes compromised
- The mother has underlying conditions affecting her ability to delivery naturally
- The baby is turned in the wrong direction (breech)
Generally, when labor and delivery becomes complicated or the health of mother and child are compromised, a cesarean section (c-section) may be a better option to avoid further complications or injuries.
Discuss these options with your healthcare provider to determine what is best for you and your baby. You do not have to include forceps as part of your birthing plan. If you are uncomfortable with the use of forceps, make your feelings known to your healthcare provider.
If you need to speak with an attorney, please contact us completely free of charge.
Risks Associated with Forceps Use
One of the primary reasons why forceps are commonly linked to birth injuries is because improper use can quickly make an otherwise smooth delivery go horribly wrong. Coupled with the fact that they are present in most delivery rooms, the risks associated with forceps use increases even more.
Using forceps during delivery is risky to both the mother and child. Risks to the mother include:
- Uterine rupture
- Injuries to the urethra or bladder
- Tears or injuries to the genital tract
- Blood loss resulting in anemia
- Weakened ligaments or muscles in the pelvis and pelvic organs
Many of these risks are also associated with vaginal births in general, but the risk of suffering these injuries (or others) increases when forceps are used.
Risks of forceps use to babies include:
- Facial injuries
- Minor eye trauma
- Temporary weakness (facial palsy)
- Skull fractures
- Bleeding in the skull
Improper use of medical tools is not acceptable. If you or your child were injured due to improper use of forceps or other labor and delivery tools, contact Brown Wharton & Brothers to discuss your case, and your legal rights.
Forceps Injuries Cause Permanent Damage
In addition to the risks mentioned above, there are cases where forceps use causes significant injuries or permanent disability to the baby. Consider, for example, a recent medical malpractice lawsuit in Nebraska. In 2010, a Nebraska family went to Methodist Women’s Hospital for the birth of their son.
According to the lawsuit, during labor, the doctor and midwife ignored breathing problems resulting in the infant’s health deteriorating. Further, during delivery, forceps were improperly used, resulting in brain damage. The child suffered permanent damage and is permanently disabled from the birth injuries he sustained.
After years of fighting for justice, in October 2016, the child’s family was awarded $11.5 million by a jury. The $11.5 million award will no doubt help cover medical expenses associated with the birth and injuries, as well as providing financial support for the ongoing care of the child’s disabilities.
The hospital has strongly contended that there was no malpractice involved, but that the child suffered a stroke unrelated to the use of forceps. The lawsuit, however, alleged that evidence proving the misapplication of forceps, as well as electronic patient records were found to have been tampered with during the investigation. This information was said to be key to the jury’s decision in favor of the family.
Permanent Damage and Your Future
Like the family in our example case, the future of your family can change dramatically if your child is injured during birth. Even in the mildest circumstances, birth injuries are traumatic. In severe cases, your child’s future may be completely altered. When forceps are used improperly, your child could suffer severe injuries to the neck, spine, or brain. These severe injuries could result in the following:
- Nerve damage to the face, which may result in the child’s facial features being permanently damaged or asymmetrical.
- Spinal cord injury, which may result in partial or complete paralysis. These severe injuries often require long-term, or even lifelong continuing care.
- Brain damage caused by forceps may be severe enough to cause damage to the cerebrum, which can lead to cerebral palsy. The cerebrum is the part of the brain responsible for motor functions, sensory processing, speech, language, and movement.
Getting Help after a Birth Injury
If your child suffered a birth injury, you may feel overwhelmed as you move through the process of getting medical care, arranging financial support, and planning for your child’s future. You may also feel angry about finding yourself in this situation, but are unsure of how to pursue justice for your family.
In either of these cases, you need support that works for your family and has your best interests at heart. Our medical malpractice and birth injury attorneys know too well the difficulties you are facing. We work with clients just like you every day in the fight for justice after needless birth injuries.
Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights, options to support your family, and what you can do to pursue justice. Fill out the form on your screen to schedule your no-obligation case review.