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Seattle Forceps Birth Injury Attorneys

When Forceps Cause Birth Injuries

Forceps are instruments that are commonly used during childbirth. Forceps look similar to a pair of barbecue tongs, with large spoons on the end. Doctors use them to place on the baby's head and gently guide it out of the birth canal. There are a number of reasons doctors choose to use forceps during delivery, and when they're properly used, they don't have any negative consequences for the baby or the mother. However, when forceps aren't properly used, it can do a great deal of damage. More and more, modern doctors are utilizing alternative methods for assisted deliveries, like a vacuum extractor. In fact, obstetricians generally must be granted special permission (privileges) at modern hospitals to use forceps.

Improper use of forceps is typically due to doctor error, and when it occurs, the parents of the child could be left with additional medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering that could have been prevented. When forceps are improperly used, parents may have a legitimate medical malpractice case and be able to seek compensation for those incurred expenses. It's important when a baby is born with birth injuries due to forceps, parents speak with a qualified Seattle birth injury lawyer right away.

Risks and Injuries Associated With Forceps

On their own, forceps are not actually risky tools; and they can be very helpful to doctors who are experienced with using them. However, when doctors aren't familiar with using forceps, there are a number of significant risks including:

  • Incorrect positioning of the forceps around the head
  • Excessive force used when pulling on the forceps
  • Forceps placed unevenly on the baby's head

When these risks are present and forceps haven't been used properly, a number of birth injuries can be caused. These include:

Before forceps are used, it's very important that the mother is informed of the procedure beforehand, has been told of all the risks involved, has been made aware of the alternatives, and has given consent. If the doctor using forceps hasn't used them before, or hasn't had success with them before, the mother should be told about it so that she can make an informed decision when giving consent. New parents should also understand that in many cases, performing a C-section will typically eliminate the need for forceps and provide a safer alternative.

Indicators and Conditions for Forceps Use

In a normal delivery with no complications, forceps should never be used. However, there are instances in which a delivery takes longer than it should, and/or the health of the baby and mother are placed at risk. In these instances, forceps can help speed along the delivery with typically no negative consequences.

Indications that forceps are necessary are:

  • The mother has major hemorrhaging
  • The mother is exhausted and cannot push anymore
  • The second stage of labor is already taking a very long time
  • Heart disease, high blood pressure, or an aneurysm are making it difficult or dangerous for the mother to push
  • The mother has been given drugs that limit her ability to push
  • The infant has an abnormal heart rate or pattern
  • It is a breech delivery

While these are all normal circumstances in which forceps might be used, there are still a number of conditions physicians must ensure are in place before using them. These are:

  • The baby's head has dropped into the birth canal
  • The mother's cervix must be fully dilated
  • The mother's "water has broken", or her membranes have been ruptured
  • The doctor knows the presentation, position, lie, and head position of the baby
  • The fetal size must be measured
  • The mother must not be having any complications with any anesthesia
  • The mother's bladder must be empty
  • If the first attempt with forceps does not work, a C-section should be performed

These conditions are extremely important to anyone who has given birth, and that birth included the use of forceps. If these conditions are not met, the baby and mother could suffer injuries due to incorrect use; and the mother may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recoup compensation for those injuries.

Here at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., we know how devastating birth injuries can be. We want to help families as they recover during this difficult time, and we want to fight to get them the compensation they may deserve for those injuries. If you or a loved one has recently given birth, and the infant or mother suffered injuries due to the use of forceps, call us toll-free at (888) 228-3860. We want to help, and we're waiting to review your case!

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