In those situations where an unborn infant has trouble passing through the birth canal, physicians and other medical providers may use forceps to assist in the delivery of an infant. In a case of excessive force when using forceps, the child can suffer permanent injuries such as Erb’s palsy, brain damage or even death.
Obstetricians, midwives and other physicians have been using a variety of birth-assisting tools for a long time. Probably the most commonly used tool in difficult deliveries is the forceps. The number forceps-caused birth injuries to American babies are alarming. Nonetheless, doctors continue to use forceps even though the chance of causing some traumatic injury to baby is increased.
Forceps are an instrument used during labor and childbirth that looks like a pair of tongs that might be used to toss a salad. The forceps are literally used to grab, maneuver or remove various things within or from the body. They are used to assist in the delivery of a baby as an alternative to vacuum extraction. The forceps are used to be placed around the baby’s head and then to pull the baby out of the birth canal during the mother’s contractions.
In obstetrics, forceps are two branches that are positioned around the fetal head. When forceps are used in childbirth, the cervix must be fully dilated and the membranes ruptured. Forceps are used in advance or in avoidance of a Cesarean section and are designed to reduce the delivery time. Naturally there are complications that arise from the use of forceps. One complication of the use of forceps is that the physician may damage the child’s skull and spine. This too can lead to devastating injury to the infant, including brain death. In addition the risks to the baby when forceps are in play include facial injuries, bruising or swelling to the head, skull fracture, brain injury and brain damage or brain bleed resulting in seizures and other serious cognitive deficits.
The mother is also at risk of serious injuries when forceps are used. For example, the mother may suffer from lacerations to the lower genital tract, perineum injury, anemia, bladder injury, urinary incontinence and injury to the birth canal.
Forceps delivery is allowed only after the second stage of labor has begun. There are serious risks to both mother and the child when physicians use forceps to assist in delivery. Facial bruises or lacerations are injuries that can occur with the use of forceps. Facial nerve trauma can also occur. Forceps can also cause bleeding under the baby’s skin near the scalp. There can also be reason to believe that forceps use causes intracranial hemorrhaging. The intracranial hemorrhaging can compromise brain tissue, limit blood supply and result in brain damage or even death to the infant.
Doctors are concerned about the number of Cesarean births and tend to want to vaginally deliver as many babies as possible. However, in cases where the delivering physician insists on using forceps in the attempt to deliver a baby under less than ideal circumstances terrible results can happen. Even though thousands of babies are delivered with the use of forceps each year, the instrument is considered so risky to some obstetricians that they no longer will use forceps in delivery. Using forceps in delivering a baby requires a high level of skill and experience. The World Health Organization’s Safer Surgery initiative has said that, “If you’re seeking the safest possible delivery of every baby, you have to take notice of the steady reports of terrible forceps injuries to babies and mothers, despite the training that clinicians have received.” That should be more than enough warning to ask the obstetrician planning on delivering your child to forego the use of this instrument. Its dangers are widely recognized in contrast to any particular advantage in their use. In many Illinois and Chicago area maternity hospitals, forceps as an instrument has been consigned to medical history.
For more than 40 years, Kreisman Law Offices has been handling birth injury cases on behalf of those injured. If you or someone you know has a child or infant who has been injured by a forceps delivery, please feel free to call our experienced lawyers at Kreisman Law Offices.
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