Forceps Injuries

Forceps Injuries

Forceps are a surgical instrument resembling a pair of tongs that can be used to assist the delivery of a baby. With advances in anesthesia, surgical technique, and antibiotics, the C-section gradually became more common and the use of forceps declined by the middle of the 20th century. The development of the vacuum extractor further diminished their use, resulting in less training and understanding of correct forceps technique. This may explain why otherwise competent medical professionals misuse forceps and cause devastating birth injuries.

Why and How Forceps are Used

A doctor may opt to use forceps when a baby is in distress due to prolonged labor or because of maternal exhaustion, maternal illness, or hemorrhage. Forceps are a viable alternative to C-section or vacuum extraction and can be a safe option as long as they are used properly and standards of care are followed.

The tongs are to be carefully placed near the ears and cheeks, on either side of the baby’s head. It is the physician’s job to assist progress through the birth canal, pulling ever so gently with each contraction. Short forceps are recognized as standard in Michigan, as it is against protocol to attempt to access the baby’s head when it is still in the upper pelvis. Forceps should only be used when the cervix is fully dilated and the membranes have ruptured.

Delivery should occur by the third forceps pull. If not, then the procedure should be abandoned and an immediate C-section should be performed. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology states that a physician should never attempt to use two different instruments successively. If either a vacuum extractor or forceps are utilized, the next step is C-section rather than another instrument.

Devastating Injuries Caused by the Use of Forceps

If the forceps process is not performed correctly, the results can be catastrophic. Proper placement is critical, as uneven placement can cause pressure on the baby’s head and damage the delicate vasculature in the brain, which can lead to swelling, hemorrhaging, and serious brain injury. Excessive repositioning or forceful pulling can also result in severe birth injury.

Improper technique or application can result in skull fractures, cervical cord injury, brain damage, nerve damage (facial palsy is common), retinal hemorrhages, intracranial hemorrhages, deformation, brachial plexus injury (temporary or permanent), bruising or lacerations, or subgaleal brain bleeds, which often lead to cerebral palsy, neurological impairment, or death.

Responsibility and Negligence

When forceps are misused, the resulting injuries can be life-threatening. If your baby survives a serious forceps injury, he or she is likely to sustain permanent brain damage or disfigurement. It is the responsibility of your physician and medical team to ensure your health and the health of your unborn child. If your child sustained permanent injury due to negligence or inattention to standards of care, it is your right to seek monetary compensation for your family.

The first step is to speak with our highly qualified legal team at Thurswell Law. We have been getting monetary compensation for families in Michigan who have been victims of birth injuries for over 48 years. Call today for your free, no-obligation consultation at 248-354-2222. No fee unless you collect.

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