When a doctor uses forceps improperly, calls for their use when another medical staff is skeptical, or uses too much force when using the forceps, serious injuries may occur. Forceps, even with proper use, comes with an increased risk of injury. It is paramount that doctors follow all protocols and best practices when using forceps, vacuum extractors, and other similar devices.
Serious, lasting injuries from a forceps delivery are rare and often preventable. However, they do occur, and forceps birth injury can lead to more serious conditions in a newborn. If your child developed a condition related to their forceps injury, you may have grounds for a valid medical malpractice case. A birth injury attorney can help you understand your rights and the strength of your case.
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Forceps Birth Injuries Can Lead to Serious Conditions
While it is rare, it is possible for a forceps delivery to cause a significant birth injury and lasting impairment. When this occurs, it usually involves some type of head injury, such as skull fractures, traumatic brain injuries, or a brain bleed.
Any of these injuries can result in:
- brain damage
- cerebral palsy
- cognitive delays
- developmental delays
- behavioral concerns
- learning disabilities, and more.
Injuries to nerves or the spinal cord are also possible if the doctor acts carelessly during a forceps delivery. These injuries could lead to lifelong impairments, including long-term facial palsy, paralysis, or other motor difficulties.
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Sometimes the Benefits of a Forceps Delivery Outweigh the Risks
In some cases, when it is too late to opt for a cesarean section (C-section) delivery, but labor is not progressing, the doctor may recommend a forceps or vacuum extraction delivery. In general, as long as the doctor follows the proper protocol for this type of procedure, there are few risks aside from relatively minor injuries.
This may happen if:
- Labor is not progressing, and the mother or baby are showing signs of stress
- The baby’s heart rate increases or decreases dramatically
- The mother is struggling with high blood pressure or another significant health concern
There are also a number of criteria that must be met before a doctor should perform a forceps procedure. The mother’s cervix must be fully dilated, and her membranes ruptured. The baby must be in the mid to lower birth canal and have a head-first presentation. Attempting a forceps procedure outside of these circumstances can put the baby at risk of serious injuries.
Some Factors Could Discourage Forceps Delivery
A doctor should not attempt a procedure delivering a baby using forceps or a vacuum extractor when this type of delivery is discouraged by other medical staff or external conditions. Doing so would put the baby and mother at an increased risk for injuries.
Some reasons a forceps delivery should not occur include:
- The baby has a disorder that causes weak bones, often osteogenesis imperfecta
- The baby has a bleeding or clotting disorder
- There is a reason to believe the baby may have one of these disorders, such as a sibling with hemophilia
- The baby is still above the midpoint of the birth canal
- The baby’s presentation or position is unknown
- The baby is not presenting head-first
- The baby might not fit through the birth canal
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Birth Injury Lawsuits
If your doctor used forceps improperly or performed a forceps procedure under unsafe conditions, and your child suffered birth injuries as a result, you may have a valid medical malpractice case against them. To find out more about your rights and to learn if you are eligible to take legal action, you likely want to discuss your case with a birth injury lawyer who practices in your state who knows that a forceps birth injury can lead to more serious conditions in a newborn.
During your free case evaluation and initial consultation, your lawyer can help you understand:
- Your legal options based on the facts of your case
- Any deadlines that apply to your case
- How to take the next step to hold the doctor or hospital accountable
- What it takes to prove a birth injury medical malpractice case in your state
- The strength of your case
- The types of damages that may be available to you
Birth injuries and other medical malpractice cases often depend on a medical expert witness who can testify to the acceptable standard of care, as well as your child’s prognosis and possible future care needs. Your attorney can help you identify the best practitioners for this, and enlist their help on your behalf.
With a solid case behind them, your attorney will attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement or will take your case to court and fight for a verdict for your family.
Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney in Your State
The Birth Injury Lawyers Group can help you identify a medical malpractice attorney who takes on birth injury cases in your state. They can help you schedule your free initial consultation with a lawyer near you today. Call us: (800) 222-9529.