Since 1990, the use of forceps in the delivery room has declined drastically in the United States. In 1990, 5.11% of all deliveries involved the use of forceps. By 2017, forceps were used in only 0.5% of all deliveries, according to recent data. This is largely due to improvements in Cesarean sections (C-sections), coupled with doctors understanding the risks of forceps injuries during birth.
Just how risky are forceps-assisted deliveries? A recent study found that the use of forceps and vacuum extractions resulted in higher rates of infant and maternal physical trauma when compared to C-sections.
Understanding Forceps Delivery
A forceps delivery involves the use of special tools called forceps that assist the baby through the birth canal during labor and delivery. Forceps look like long spoons or salad tongs. They’re gently inserted into the vaginal canal on either side of the baby’s head and used to help guide the baby out of the birth canal during a contraction.
A doctor may consider the use of forceps if the mother’s membranes have ruptured, the cervix is fully dilated, and the baby has descended into the birth canal. The use of forceps during delivery may be used for many reasons, including:
- Pushing but labor isn’t progressing
- Baby’s heartbeat is abnormal
- Mother has a medical condition like high blood pressure or heart disease
- Mother can’t push the baby out due to epidural or other complications
When Forceps Should Not Be Used
Numerous situations could arise in the labor and delivery process that would prevent a doctor from using forceps. Some of those reasons include when a baby has a condition that affects the strength of their bones or if the baby is positioned incorrectly. In addition, if the baby is positioned with the arm or shoulder proceeding the head, then forceps should not be used. Likewise, if the baby is too far in the birth canal and has not descended enough, the use of forceps should not be considered.
Forceps Related Injuries
The use of forceps can cause significant trauma to the baby during delivery. If the doctor was negligent when using forceps, these injuries can cause life-long pain and suffering. Forceps can cause numerous birth injuries, including:
- Facial injuries, lacerations, and disfigurement
- Facial paralysis due to nerve damage
- External eye trauma
- Skull fracture
- Traumatic brain injury
- Cerebral Palsy
- Erb’s Palsy
- Brachial Plexus Palsy
- Shoulder dystocia
During labor and delivery, the baby isn’t the only one who can suffer serious injuries due to a forceps-assisted delivery. Mothers are also at risk for sustaining numerous injuries, including:
- Pain in perineum
- Genital tract tears
- Bladder damage
- Injuries to the urethra
- Urinary or fecal incontinence
- Uterine rupture
- Pelvic organ prolapse
When Medical Negligence Occurs
If a medical professional uses forceps negligently during delivery, they can – and should – be held accountable. Sometimes choosing to use forceps is the wrong decision and one that can cause your child to suffer unnecessarily. Also, if your doctor knew that a forceps delivery would be too risky, but failed to take this risk into account before using forceps, they could be held liable for the injuries you and your child suffered as a result of their negligence.
Birth injuries are serious and can adversely affect your child’s life forever. No one should have to live with the consequences of a botched forceps delivery – especially a child.
Parents whose children have been injured during a forceps-assisted delivery should contact an experienced Birth Injury lawyer immediately to review all of their legal options. While not every birth injury is the result of medical negligence, your attorney can examine your case to determine if your doctor or medical institution acted negligently during the labor and delivery process. If negligence occurred, you might be able to file a medical malpractice claim.
Contact Our Providence Birth Injury Lawyers Today
If your baby suffered an injury and forceps were used during the labor and delivery process, we can help. At Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd, our Providence birth injury lawyers know that if your child suffered a birth injury, you may be distraught and scared for your child’s future.
You may need money now to help pay for medical expenses and care, as well as future surgeries or medical procedures. As such, we fight aggressively for maximum compensation after a birth injury. Call us today at 401-283-0745 or fill out our confidential contact form for a free initial consultation and review of your case.