Think Twice Before Agreeing to Forceps during Childbirth
Childbirth is a wonderful and necessary human process that inherently brings a lot of unavoidable risk. Given the gravity of the potential consequences, mothers-to-be seek out and rely on obstetricians and other medical professionals with experience and training in childbirth to help keep the process safe for the new mother and her baby. Unfortunately, these professionals do not always provide the proper care, and can be liable for medical malpractice if any harm occurs. Many mothers-to-be understandably desire to have a natural birth, and the medical team in the delivery room is charged with monitoring and responding to changes in the condition of the baby or mother-to-be that indicate a problem exists. One relatively popular method of assisting with natural births that are not progressing normally is to use forceps to extract the infant in order to avoid performing a caesarian section. Forceps may seem like the easy option to address labor issues, but can easily be misapplied and create catastrophic injuries. A recent news story reported the results of a coroner inquest into the death of a six-week-old infant following devastating injury from a forceps-assisted delivery. The medical expert who examined the protocol used in the delivery said everything was done properly, but the baby was still left with brain damage, a torn neck artery and spinal injury. A discussion of the situations in which doctors typically use forceps during childbirth, and some of the injuries associated with their use, will follow below.
When Forceps Are Used
As mentioned above, forceps are used to assist with extraction during the birth process in order to avoid a caesarian section, which has its own list of complications. Doctors are trained to look to forceps as an option when certain aspects of childbirth do not progress properly or when the mother and/or baby start to exhibit signs of distress. Specifically, forceps are routinely utilized in the following situations:
- labor stalls despite dilation and the mother pushing;
- the baby is incorrectly positioned in the birth canal;
- the baby’s vital signs start to fluctuate or drop, urging the doctor to speed up delivery;
- the mother is unable to continue pushing, usually owing to a labor lasting many hours; or
- the mother’s health starts to become a concern.
Injuries that Can Occur
The use of forceps generally is not a problem, and facilitates a vaginal birth, which is associated with greater benefits for the baby. However, it is easy to make a mistake in the placement of and force used to apply the forceps that can leave a child with life-long injuries. Some of the more common injuries babies sustain from forceps include:
- head trauma;
- brain damage;
- facial injuries;
- skull fractures;
- nerve damage to the face and neck; and
- brain hemorrhaging.
Brain-related injuries are the most concerning because of the myriad complications that can follow. Physical impairments, such as coordination problems, cognitive difficulties and behavioral issues are just some of the consequences of forceps-related birth injury.
Pursuing legal action against a negligent doctor who caused a birth injury is important to the future health of the child because the expensive and comprehensive care he/she will likely need for the rest of his/her life. Attorneys experienced in medical malpractice cases for birth injuries will know how to calculate the ongoing losses families must endure so the proper amount of compensation is paid.
Get Legal Advice
Injury to your child, especially during the first moments of life, can never be fully reconciled. Holding the negligent doctor accountable for your child’s suffering is critical getting him/her the future care he/she will need to thrive as much as possible. The medical malpractice attorneys at Pita Weber & Del Prado know how to fight for your rights, and will be strong advocates in getting you the justice your family needs. Contact us today for a free consultation.