Use of Obstetric Forceps
Once used fairly routinely to facilitate childbirth, obstetric forceps are now a tool of last resort due to the substantial risk of birth injuries. Presently less than 3% of infants are delivered with the help of forceps.
Obstetric forceps resemble a pair of large tongs with two steel blades that are used to grip–and sometimes rotate–the baby inside the birth canal. Gentle traction is then applied to deliver the infant.
Forceps deliveries are categorized as outlet, low, mid, or high forceps, based on the level and position of the baby’s head in the birth canal. Since precise knowledge of the fetal head’s location and position is essential if birth injuries are to be avoided, high forceps delivery is now widely regarded as a departure from the accepted standard of care and is no longer performed. Even mid forceps delivery is controversial among medical professionals due to the increased risk of birth injury.
Forceps Birth Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice
In skilled hands, forceps can prevent traumatic injury to an infant stuck in the birth canal. If used improperly, however, the consequences can be disastrous. Forceps birth injuries range from the mild and transient to the permanently debilitating, including:
- Bruises and Lacerations – Forceps marks on the face and head usually heal within a week, but occasionally permanently disfiguring marks are left.
- Corneal Injury – Forceps-related damage to the newborn’s cornea can result in varying degrees of vision loss.
- Facial Nerve Paralysis – Damage to facial nerves may be temporary–disappearing within a few weeks–or permanent.
- Skull Fractures – When too much pressure is applied to forceps, depressed skull fractures can be the result.
- Spinal Cord Injuries – Spinal cord birth injuries typically result in severe disability or death and can be caused by improper forceps rotation.
- Brachial Palsy – Characterized by weakness or paralysis of the arm, Brachial Palsy is usually the result of nerve damage sustained during delivery.
- Cerebral Palsy – Improper use of forceps can cause brain injuries, resulting in Cerebral Palsy.
How a Kentucky Birth Injury Lawyer Can Help
To determine if your child’s forceps birth injury is the result of medical malpractice, it’s important that you contact an experienced birth injury lawyer as soon as possible. The Northern Kentucky birth injury attorneys at the Law Office of Schachter, Hendy & Johnson have represented the rights of birth trauma victims and their families for over 35 years. We understand what you are going through, and we will review your case and advise you of your legal options. Complete our online form for a free birth injury consultation, or call (859) 578-4444 or (888) 606-5297 to speak to an experienced Kentucky medical malpractice lawyer today.