The Basics – Use of Forceps can Lead to Birth Injuries

Complications during the birth process are disturbingly common. Fortunately, when these problems do occur, medical professionals are generally equipped with the tools and knowledge to handle them in the most efficient and safest manner possible. But even with the abundance of advanced technology, injuries sometimes occur. These incidents can result in years of pain and suffering for mothers, babies and families. When they occur, medically responsible parties should take accountability for their actions.

Forceps are instruments commonly used to guide infants through the birth canal during difficult deliveries. They resemble large tongs that are placed on either side of the baby’s head and gently pulled out of the pelvis. Physicians use forceps when mothers are unable to push the baby out on their own. This is commonly the case during a breech delivery or prolonged labor.
When using forceps, the physician must use extreme precautions. First, the timing is important, as forceps are only appropriate after full dilation and the rupturing of the membrane. The doctor must also demonstrate caution in placing the forceps on the baby, ensuring that they are not inserted too far into the birth canal. The use of forceps is also reportedly not acceptable when the baby’s head is considerably large. Physicians must determine when to use forceps and when a cesarean section is the better alternative.

Forceps Injury in the News

MSN News is reporting about a girl who was recently awarded thousands from the Irish courts as compensation for an injury she sustained during her birth. According to the article, the eight year old suffered an eye injury, allegedly from the placement of the forceps during delivery. The lawsuit asserted that the child experienced cuts and bruises to her eye after birth. It was later discovered that her right eye was cloudy and she eventually needed glasses to correct her vision. The article reports that initial claims for compensation were denied, but an Irish court recently awarded her more than $200,000 when converted to American currency.
According to the Mayo Clinic, forceps raise considerable risks to the mother and the baby. For the mother, complications may include:

*Urination difficulties
*Tears within the genital tract
*Excessive blood loss during delivery, leading to anemia, which is a shortage of healthy red blood cells
*Rupture of the uterine wall
*For the baby, complications include:
*Facial Palsy, which is weakness in the facial muscles *External eye traumas *Bleeding from the skull
*The onset of seizures

Some medical experts argue for the use of a delivery vacuum device, instead of forceps. The vacuum works through the use of gentle suction to pull the baby through the birth canal. Expectant mothers should speak with their physician about both options and determine which procedure makes them most comfortable. However, injuries can occur with either option, and when they do, appropriate compensation should be secured. With the assistance of an experienced attorney, victims can secure the compensation that they deserve.

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