Most birth injuries that occur during a forceps delivery are relatively minor, and minor injuries can occur even when doctors use these tools correctly. Bruises and minor scrapes (along with a temporary change in head shape) are most common and heal on their own—quickly. More serious injuries are relatively rare but do occur.
When used improperly or too forcefully, forceps can cause serious injuries to the infant. If your doctor employed forceps during your child’s delivery, it is important that medical care professionals evaluate any possible signs or symptoms of related injuries and observe the baby rule out any emergent concerns.
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Common Symptoms of a Forceps Injury
The nature and severity of forceps injuries can vary widely but generally center around injuries that occurred because of the force applied to the baby’s head. Many of these injuries are visible immediately following birth. This may include:
- Bumps, scrapes, and other marks on the baby’s face and head
- Swelling or a cone-shaped appearance
- Cuts deep enough to bleed
Bruising is very common and will likely appear in the first few hours of the baby’s life. If there are nerve injuries, a medical care provider will often note a droopy eye or side of the face during initial evaluations or within the first 24 hours. All these injuries usually heal on their own in a few weeks, although some nerve injuries may require additional treatment or even be permanent.
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Forceps Can Cause More Serious Injuries
In rare cases, usually, after a doctor forcefully tugs on the baby instead of using the forceps to guide them down the birth canal, more serious injuries may occur. This could include:
- Neck injuries, up to and including paralysis
- Nerve injuries in the neck or shoulder
- Bleeding inside the baby’s head
- Brain injury including cerebral palsy caused by bleeding
The signs of these more serious injuries can vary. A bleed between the scalp and the skull, for example, will create a large bruise on the scalp or head. Neck injuries and nerve injuries can instantly stop movement in the affected areas of the body. Doctors may diagnose any of these conditions and begin treatment before the newborn leaves the hospital.
Brain injuries such as cerebral palsy, however, can be more difficult to diagnose. Even if a thorough evaluation shows a brain bleed, there is often no way to know how any damage is done will affect the child until much later when they fail to meet developmental milestones on time or cannot keep up with their peers.
Many children with epilepsy have their first seizure within 24 hours of birth, so this may be a sign of a brain bleed and brain injury.
Birth Injury Lawsuits
If your child displays common symptoms of a forceps injury, you may be eligible to pursue compensation to cover the losses and expenses your family suffers as a result, including damages for your child’s pain and suffering. You may have a valid medical malpractice case against the doctor or hospital if:
- They failed to monitor your pregnancy and labor and order a medically necessary cesarean delivery; or
- They failed to provide an acceptable standard of care, instead of acting negligently; or
- Your child suffered preventable birth injuries because of a doctor or staff member’s careless or negligent actions.
To find out if you may have a valid birth injury case, you should schedule a free case review by a medical malpractice attorney in your state. Your attorney will be able to:
- Evaluate the strength of your case
- Explain your right to pursue compensation
- Talk to you about the deadlines that apply in your case
- Navigate the claims process on your behalf
- Build a strong case based on your state’s laws
- Enlist the help of medical expert witnesses to prove your case when necessary
Your attorney will attempt to negotiate an out-of-court settlement or win a verdict for your family in court. If successful, you will be eligible to recover damages for your documented losses and expenses related to your child’s injuries and treatment, both in the past and in the future.
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Talk to a Birth Injury Attorney in Your State About Your Case
You can connect with a birth injury attorney who regularly handles cases like yours in your state by calling the Birth Injury Lawyers Group now at (800) 222-9529. A birth injury lawyer can help you set up your initial consultation and learn more about your rights today.