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Forceps Injury

The medical malpractice attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm handle birth injury cases, including those involving the use of Forceps. If you or your child was harmed during childbirth and Forceps were used, there is a good possibility that it was caused by medical negligence or medical malpractice. It is in your best interests to seek out more information about Forceps Injuries if you suspect that medical malpractice or negligence may have been involved in the delivery process. Information on what Forceps Injuries are and what it might mean for you and your child can be found below. Additionally, the medical malpractice attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm invite you to contact us, either at 937-228-2306 or 1-800-VERDICT to obtain more information about making a claim for medical malpractice.

What are Forceps?

Forceps are a device sometimes used to assist in delivery and childbirth. During some childbirths, complications may arise which prevent the delivery from proceeding naturally, and assistance may be required. This assistance can come in several forms. One form is Forceps. This form of assistance is often used when the head of the infant is visible or low enough in the birth channel to be accessed, but the rest of the infant’s body is having trouble being delivered.

Forceps used in childbirth consist of two ‘branches’ or ‘arms’. These branches are joined at a midpoint, essentially creating a pincer. The ‘blade’ or end of each branch is curved. The inside curve, called the cephalic curve, is shaped to conform the fetal head. It grasps the infant’s head, and is designed to surround the head firmly but not tightly. The outside curve, called the pelvic curve, is designed with the birth channel and pelvis in mind, and is contoured to conform to the birth channel and prevent any excessive force or pressure on the mother. There are a variety of Forceps designs, in order to react to the many different situations that may be present. For example, if the infant requires rotation to align properly with the birth channel, a different type of Forceps may be used for that.

The technique for Forceps is relatively straightforward. The position of the fetal head is verified, often through ultrasound. Each blade is then inserted separately and maneuvered to that the cephalic curve is smug against the fetal head. The blades are then locked. Then, using gentle force, the Forceps are used to assist the mother and to pull and guide the infant out of the birth channel.

This process will often be used if the delivery has become stalled or complicated. These reasons may include:

  • Maternal Exhaustion
  • A prolonged second stage of labor
  • Fetal distress in the second stage of labor – Particularly that of high fetal heart rate
  • Maternal Condition – Such as illness that would make ‘pushing’ efforts risky
  • Hemorrhage or potential for hemorrhage
  • After-coming head in breech birth

There are some advantages to choosing a Forceps over a Vacuum Extractor or a Caesarean Section. With Forceps, there is a greater chance of avoiding a Caesarean Section, there may be a reduction in delivery time, and there is more general applicability due to the generally uniform positioning of the infant’s head.  However, unlike with a Vacuum Extractor, an episiotomy may be required, marks are often left on the infant’s face, and there is a greater risk of trauma to the mother and child.

Consequences of Forceps Injuries

While the use of Forceps is generally safe, injuries are possible. These injuries most often occur due to incorrect use of the Forceps, and can be quite severe and extensive. The skulls of newborn infants are extremely soft and malleable, in order to aid in the birthing process and allow the infant to pass through both the pelvis and the birth channel. However, this softness does predispose the infant to potential injury, which can be critical.

Forceps use also pose a risk to the mother as well, due to the introduction of a foreign object into the birth channel.

Additionally, as with any form of assisted delivery, the procedure may not work and a Caesarean Section may be required.

Some potential consequences of improper Forceps use are as follows.

  • Swelling of scalp and/or brain
  • Damage to scalp and/or brain
  • Skull fractures, bone distortions
  • Intracranial hemorrhage (bleeding in or around the brain)
  • Improper twisting or maneuvering of the neck
  • Shoulder Dystocia and injuries resulting from the condition
  • Nerve damage
  • Brain damage
  • Perineal lacerations, pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence in the mother
  • Increased recovery time from labor and delivery in the mother
  • General pain in the mother

In the most severe cases, issues during childbirth may cause complications which lead to the death of the infant.

Medical and Legal Significance of Forceps Injuries

Forceps Injuries are often caused by incorrect use of the device or by an improper procedure or technique. As such, the resulting harm from a Forceps Injury may be due to medical malpractice or medical negligence.

A doctor or medical professional may not have the proper training to use Forceps. They may use the technique improperly, pulling to hard or carelessly, or putting too much pressure on the infant’s skull. Failure to properly monitor the situation or the childbirth may result in the need for an assisted delivery when there wouldn’t have been the need otherwise. A doctor may also decide to use Forceps when use of a Vacuum Extractor or a Caesarean Section would have been the more appropriate choice.

Doctors and medical professionals have an obligation to prevent harm or injury from occurring, and to ensure that their actions do not cause preventable harm or injury. Forceps, while a useful tool for assisting in childbirth, create an increased risk for harm or injury to occur to an infant. Doctors and medical professionals must take care when using Forceps to make sure that they do not commit medical malpractice or medical negligence and, most important, cause any harm or injury.

Seeking Legal Counsel and Guidance

If you have experienced the use of Forceps during childbirth which resulted in health issue or injuries to your child, medical malpractice or negligence may be the cause. The medical malpractice attorneys at the Brannon Law Firm have the skill and experience to discover whether you or your child’s health issues are a result of Forceps use and whether those health issues could have been avoided or prevented, as well as to help ensure that you or your child receive the assistance you need and deserve.

Medical malpractice and medical negligence is preventable. It is caused by the error, improper action, or lack of action by medical professionals. It is important to hold those medical professionals to the proper standards and to hold them accountable for the harm and damage they may cause. The Brannon Law Firm can help hold those at fault accountable.

Additionally, treatment for you or your child may be difficult, both financially and emotionally. The consequences of Forceps can be numerous in possibilities and can be severe and long lasting, requiring years of medical treatment, loss of quality of life, and costly medical bills. It is important to ensure you have the assistance and care that you or your child deserve to live the best life possible. The Brannon Law Firm can help with that process.

At the Brannon Law Firm, we have represented many families and infants who were unfortunate victims of Forceps Injuries. We have obtained favorable verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients in Forceps Injuries cases. We invite you to contact us, either at 937-228-2306 or 1-800-VERDICT for a free consultation. The Brannon Law Firm is proud to serve clients in Dayton and throughout the State of Ohio.