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Forceps use and Birth Injuries

Forceps are a medical device used to facilitate delivery of a baby. Forceps look like salad tongs and are placed around the baby’s head to guide the baby out of the birth canal. Generally, when forceps are used according to the proper standards of care, delivery of the baby is quick and without complication. Physicians delivering the baby must be experienced in forceps use. If forceps are not used properly babies can suffer irreparable and serious injury.

Forceps should only be used where there is medical indication to require their use. Indications for forceps use include:

  • The mother has sudden major hemorrhaging;
  • The second stage of labour is prolonged;
  • Certain maternal illnesses or use of drugs that inhibit pushing;
  • Certain abnormal heart rates or heart patterns of the baby;
  • In particular circumstances during breech delivery.

In addition, there are certain conditions that must be present before forceps delivery. Some of these conditions include:

  • Rupture membranes;
  • Engaged head;
  • Cervix must be fully dilated;
  • The bladder of the mother must be empty;
  • The delivering physician must have experience and skill with forceps.

If delivery with forceps fails, the doctor must quickly move on to a c-section. Failure to do so, can be a breach of the standard of care.

Forceps should not be used where certain fetal conditions exist. Care should be taken to make other attempts at delivery in such circumstances.

If the physician fails to meet the standard of care and if any failure to meet the standard of care has caused your baby’s injuries then you may be able to recover compensation in a medical malpractice case. Some of the injuries that can be suffered by a baby where there is medical malpractice in the use of forceps include:

  • Skull fractures;
  • Intracranial hemorrhages;
  • Head compression and brain swelling;
  • Tearing of blood vessels.

These injuries can result in developmental delays, seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, and strokes among other disorders.

* The information above is not intended to be legal advice. Each situation is different and the information provided above may not provide you with all law applicable to your facts. To ensure you are properly protected under the law applicable to your facts, please contact Murray Ralston Law for a free consultation.