If your child suffered a forceps injury during birth, you may be wondering if medical negligence was at play in the delivery room. Unfortunately, in many cases, forceps injuries can be linked to negligence. Here are five signs negligence was involved:
1. The injury is not on the head of your baby.
Forceps are designed to be used on a baby's head. There are several different types of forceps, but they all feature blades designed to grasp the baby's head. If they were used on a limb or torso, they were used incorrectly.
Before using the forceps, your doctor should have noted the position of the baby and made sure that the forceps were directed toward his or her head, not another part of the body.
2. Your child has serious brain injuries.
Even in cases when the forceps were applied to the head, injuries can be involved. Unfortunately, skull fractures, bleeding within the skull, and seizures are all potential risks of using forceps, but these risks are also extremely rare.
If your child suffered serious brain trauma as a result of forceps, they may have been used incorrectly by the doctor. In most cases, forceps only cause slight, temporary bruising. If they caused greater injuries, they may have been too small for your child's head.
Before using the forceps, your doctor should have estimated the size of your child's head through an ultrasound. There are portable ultrasound machines that can be brought into labor and delivery rooms just for this purpose.
3. The doctor intervened with forceps without trying anything else.
Whether your child has a brain injury or any other type of injury, the steps the doctor took before he or she used the forceps are critical in assessing whether or not their use was warranted. Forceps are typically used in cases when labor isn't progressing. In most cases, this means the mother has been pushing with no results for quite some time.
However, forceps are only warranted in some cases. If you are not fully dilated, the forceps can rip your cervix. If your baby's head is not engaged in the pelvis, the forceps will likely end up grasping the wrong part of his or her body. If your doctor failed to check your dilatation, failed to ensure the baby's head was fully engaged in your pelvis, or failed to take any other necessary precautions in the delivery room, he or she may have made the decision to use forceps in error.
In many cases, an emergency cesarean may have been a better option. In other cases, the doctor should have encouraged you to try other positions (for example getting on your hands and knees or walking around instead of lying on your back) to encourage labor to progress more rapidly.
4. The injury was caused by the forceps slipping off.
Even if your doctor made the decision in the spirit of good care, if he or she used the tool incorrectly, that may be a sign of medical negligence. Forceps are designed with locks, and once the doctor has them in place, he or she should lock them. That prevents them from slipping off.
However, if the forceps are not locked correctly and they slide off the baby, a number of things could happen. The forceps may slide across the head of the baby, causing abrasions or other injuries; the sides of the forceps may hit the baby after they slide off; or other injuries may have occurred as a result of improper locking.
5. The medical staff failed to notice your child's injuries.
In some cases, it may not be the delivery doctor who is at fault. When you have a baby in a hospital, a pediatrician typically checks on your baby. It is this professional's job to monitor your baby for injuries and abnormalities.
If your baby had internal bleeding from forceps or any other issue that was undetected and that then led to more serious injuries, the doctor who attended your baby may be at fault.
Want to talk more about forcep injuries and medical negligence? Please contact a medical negligence attorney today. They can help you find the closure and compensation you deserve.