Use of Forceps During Delivery Comes Under Fire in New Facebook Campaign

After Allen Coats and Rachel Melancon’s infant daughter suffered fatal birth injuries due to a physician’s improper, and potentially negligent, use of forceps during delivery, they created a Facebook campaign.  The campaign urges all healthcare providers to stop using forceps to deliver babies.

Fatal Birth Injury Caused by Forceps

According to reports, infant Olivia Marie Coats was just five days old when she passed away at the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas.  She was delivered at The Medical Center of Southeast Texas on December 28, 2013, but during a long, difficult delivery, her heartbeat increased significantly.  Labor lasted around 18 hours.  Labor and delivery was so arduous that Rachel Melancon developed a high fever and broke out into sweats.

According to the parents, they urged Dr. George T. Backardjiev to perform a cesarean section well before Rachel’s due date because of the baby’s large size.  Yet, the doctor insisted that she didn’t need a C-section because it would leave a scar.  Instead, Rachel went into labor and learned that her baby was positioned face up during delivery.  Dr. Backardjiev tried unsuccessfully to turn the infant’s head.  He then took a pair of small forceps and began pulling the baby out.

“(Backardjiev) kept going and even put his foot up on the bed trying to pull. When he touched the top and side of the skull, we heard a pop, like clay cracking in pottery and heard her skull crush.”

The forceps attempt was unsuccessful and eventually Rachel underwent a last minute C-section. Unfortunately, it was too late.  The medical staff reportedly told Allen and Rachel that Olivia wasn’t breathing on her own after delivery and had a multitude of skull fractures.  Additionally, her spine was allegedly cracked.  At that point, the baby was sent to Children’s Memorial. She died five days later.

Parents Fight Doctor and Call for Action

Rachel and Allen filed a lawsuit against Dr. Backardjiev as well as The Medical Center of Southeast Texas.  In addition, they created a Facebook campaign, entitled “Olivia Marie Coats” offering updates on the family as well as pushing for a law that bans the use of forceps during delivery.  The page quickly gained more than 103,000 members.

A petition called “The Olivia Law” was also initiated with a two-fold purpose. First, to educate others on the risks of using forceps during delivery. Second, to call for lawmakers to take action. The petition was signed by more than 41,000 people.

Sam Uribe

Written By Sam Uribe

Sam Uribe is a researcher and writer. She lends her expertise to the team at Birth Injury Guide to provide up-to-date and relevant content that clients can count on.