Even if everything goes as expected, the birth process can be traumatic and complicated for both a mother and infant. However, few birth situations go exactly as planned, and in many cases, a doctor must make decisions during the process based on presenting factors or complications. One such decision is whether to use birthing tools, such as forceps, to assist the delivery.
While the use of forceps is not in itself dangerous, this tool can be improperly used and cause serious and lasting injuries to a baby. Even experienced obstetricians can make dangerous mistakes when using birthing tools—mistakes that may constitute medical malpractice.
If you or your infant was the victim of medical malpractice, Florida law gives you the right to seek compensation for the losses that stem from that injury. You should not hesitate to discuss your options with the experienced birth injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group today.
When Are Forceps Used?
If the labor and delivery process is extended for too long, there are increased risks of injury to the baby. As a result, the doctor may want to speed up the birth by using forceps. Forceps resemble a larger set of metal salad tongs or spoons and the doctor uses the “spoons” to cup around the baby’s head and help guide and pull the baby out. Such guidance by forceps generally occurs during a contraction to supplement the pushing of the mother.
The following are some of the circumstances under which a doctor may decide to use forceps to assist a birth:
- Labor stalls despite the mother’s dilation and pushing
- The baby is not positioned properly in the birth canal
- The baby’s shoulder or other body part is stuck on the cervix
- Concerns arise regarding the baby’s vital signs during delivery, causing the doctor to want to speed up the process
- Health issues arise in the mother, requiring the doctor to expedite the birth
- The mother is unable to push or continue pushing
Using forceps often prevents the need for a cesarean section, as doing so can facilitate a faster birth to reduce the risks of health problems.
There is some debate about whether it is better to use forceps or a vacuum to assist with a birth. Many medical experts believe that a vacuum is often a safer option, though it does not have as high of a success rate as forceps. Therefore, many doctors use forceps to have a greater chance of avoiding a C-section whenever possible. In addition, if a baby is positioned face-first, forceps will be the only option, as a vacuum can only be used on the top of the baby’s head.
Risks of Improperly Using Forceps During Birth
When forceps are used correctly, a baby can often be safely delivered vaginally. However, when a doctor uses this tool incorrectly, many injuries to the baby can occur, including the following:
- Head trauma
- Brain damage
- Skull fractures
- Brain hemorrhage
- Eye injuries
- Facial injuries
- Nerve damage to the face or neck
Perhaps the biggest concern regarding the improper use of forceps is that the child could suffer damage to her brain tissue. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can result in many complications and impairments—some of which may be permanent. Some of the lifetime effects of a TBI at birth include:
- Physical impairments, such as difficulties with balance and coordination
- Speech problems
- Information processing difficulties
- Memory lapses
- Other cognitive impairments
- Behavioral problems, such as lack of emotional control
- Brain swelling or bleeding, leading to dangerously high intracranial pressure
One of the most devastating results of a brain injury due to forceps is cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy actually refers to a variety of disorders that can impair movement due to brain damage. While the effects of cerebral palsy can differ, they often include stiffness, weakness, tremors, and difficulty swallowing, hearing, speaking, or seeing. Cerebral palsy can also cause developmental problems, cognitive impairments, and seizures. Often, parents may not be aware of the existence of the cerebral palsy until the child grows older and experiences developmental delays. There is no cure for cerebral palsy. The symptoms can be treated with medication, surgery, and different types of therapy—all of which can be costly.
Going home with your new baby can be a momentous occasion and the emotions and responsibilities that go along with becoming a new parent can be overwhelming. However, this experience can become significantly more challenging if you discover that your child has developmental impairments due to a birth injury.
If your child is diagnosed with brain damage, cerebral palsy, vision problems, seizures, or any other serious health problem because your doctor misused forceps, your life and the life of your child can be permanently affected. Your child may require special accommodations at school and medical equipment; he may also see his opportunities limited. You may incur many expenses for various types of therapy for your child’s physical or cognitive impairments.
Determining the losses that will arise from a birth injury is a complex endeavor, as your child may experience lifelong impairments and losses from her birth injuries. Our birth injury attorneys understand how to calculate extensive and ongoing losses to ensure our clients receive the maximum amount of compensation to which they are entitled under the law. We will stand up for the rights of our clients and will never encourage anyone to settle for an inadequate settlement simply to resolve a claim.
Contact Our Clearwater Birth Injury Law Firm for Assistance Today
At the Dolman Law Group, we have seen how significant the effects of a birth injury can be on a family. We regularly help clients who are experiencing the effects of a birth injury and we know how to prove complex medical malpractice claims. If you believe that your child’s injury may have been caused by medical malpractice, you need a law firm on your side with the necessary resources to investigate the circumstances of your child’s injury and to protect your legal rights. Please do not hesitate to call our birth injury lawyers at our Clearwater office today at 727-451-6900 for a free consultation.