Birth Injury:

Injury due to Forceps

Complications during child birth, including prolonged labor or a large infant, can sometimes warrant the use of forceps to deliver the child. However, if the physician does not adhere to the appropriate medical standards when using forceps, birth injuries such as nerve or brain damage can occur.

Proper and Improper Use of Forceps

Forceps should only be used when absolutely necessary, including the following situations:

  • When the infant is in fetal distress
  • When the mother is having difficulty pushing
  • When the positioning of the fetus in the birth canal is incorrect

If done properly, forceps can save the infant’s life and prevent it from becoming oxygen deprived. If the fetus experiences a lack of oxygen for an extended period of time, permanent brain damage can result. Likewise, a forceps delivery may be the only way to protect the head of an infant that is incorrectly positioned in the birth canal. Because of the delicacy of the infant’s skull, it is vital to protect the head during delivery. If the physician does not take the appropriate steps to shelter the head, brain damage can occur.

On the other hand, forceps can also cause a permanent birth injury. While some amount of force is necessary in a forceps delivery, too much force can lead to cerebral palsy, skull fractures, and facial paralysis. Forceps can also place a mother at risk for urinary tract infections, cuts and rectum injuries.

Cerebral Palsy and Facial Paralysis

In the most severe cases, improper use of forceps can lead to cerebral palsy and facial nerve damage/paralysis. Facial nerve damage can result in permanent facial asymmetry that becomes particularly noticeable when the baby cries or laughs. Cerebral palsy occurs when brain damage leads to a permanent disorder affecting movement, cognition, perception and behavior. Although cerebral palsy does not get worse over time, there is no known cure.

Many cases of cerebral palsy could have been avoided if the medical team followed the appropriate safety measures during the delivery. While the exact cause of cerebral palsy is not known, the birth injury has been linked to improper use of forceps and oxygen deprivation.

If your child was born with cerebral palsy, it is important to remember that managing this birth injury will cost you approximately $921,000 over the child’s lifetime. Our birth injury attorneys believe that no family should have to handle these expensive medical bills alone if the condition was caused by medical malpractice. Fill out our free case evaluation form today to find out if you are eligible to recover compensation for a birth injury related to forceps delivery.