Not all labors and deliveries progress without an issue. In some circumstances, the use of medical equipment becomes a necessity when the childbirth process fails to progress as desired. The two most common types of equipment utilized during childbirth are a vacuum device and forceps. Every year birth injuries occur associated with the use of forceps. These include injury caused to mothers and babies alike. Unfortunately, there are instances in which forceps injuries result from negligence or medical malpractice.
Forceps Injuries to Baby
Forceps injuries to babies can be grouped into two broad categories. First, there are forceps injuries that cause treatable injuries to a baby that usually resolve. Second, there are instances in which forceps injuries result permanent and even severe harm.
The reality is that provided that certain forceps injuries are treated properly in the immediate aftermath of their occurrence, further medical issues can be avoided. Sadly, there are cases each year when this type of post-forceps injury care is not provided in a timely or appropriate manner. The net effect of this type of medical negligence is permanent injury to a baby, resulting in conditions that impact a person for the remainder of his or her life.
In considering forceps injuries to a baby from a comprehensive perspective, the most frequently occurring types of harm caused by this type of birth-related medical equipment include:
- Skull fractures
- Eye and eye orbit trauma
- Facial damage
- Brain damage
- Brain hemorrhage
- Nerve damage
Permanent Forceps Injuries to Baby
The most commonplace types of permanent injuries to a baby resulting from the use of forceps includes:
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb’s palsy
- Seizure disorders
- Intellectual and developmental disabilities
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy
Cerebral palsy is not one medical condition but rather a group of disorders. Cerebral palsy affects an individual’s ability to move, maintain posture, and maintain balance. People diagnosed with cerebral palsy do present symptoms in varying degrees, with some people have less severe issues and others dealing with more severe complications.
Erb’s palsy occurs when forceps damage the brachial plexus during childbirth. The brachial plexus is a group of nerves that run from the hand to the shoulder. Symptoms of Erb’s palsy arm and shoulder weakness as well as loss of a limitation of motion.
Seizure disorders arising from the use of forceps during the birth process can range from mild and transient to severe and chronic. There are instances in which forceps injuries result in a person ending up with a diagnosis of epilepsy.
Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Forceps injuries causing brain damage to a baby can have serious, permanent consequences. Among these severe consequences are intellectual and development impairments. These impairments have the potential for profoundly limiting a person’s lifelong intellectual, physical, and emotional trajectories. The impact on a person’s live can be broad and lifelong.
Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy
One of the most severe types of permanent forceps injury is what is known as Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy. This arises from lack of oxygen caused by the use of forceps that results in permanent brain damage. Babies diagnosed with Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy can suffer permanent health issues that include:
- Vision impairment
- Hearing impairment
- Cognitive disabilities
- Seizure disorders
- Cerebral palsy
Forceps Injuries to Mother
Among the more commonplace forceps injuries to mothers are those that involve tears in the vagina and perineum. (The perineum is the part of the body between a woman’s vulva and anus.) In addition to being painful, this type of tearing can result in an excessive loss of blood, a state of affairs that can make the birth and recovery processes all the more challenging. Significantly, a forceps-induced tear to the vagina and perineum can cause infection, including aggressive or even an antibiotic resistant infection.
The use of forceps during the delivery of a child can also require that a mother endure an episiotomy. Technically speaking, this is defined as a surgical procedure that widens the birth canal. What this entails is cutting into the perineum and the posterior vaginal wall. Painful, the procedure necessitates sutures to close following delivery. The risk of infection is also present with this type of procedure.
In some cases, the use of forceps during delivery causes what is known as a uterine rupture. In basic terms, the uterine wall is torn or otherwise damaged as a consequence of the use of forceps. This is a very dangerous situation and can jeopardize the life of the unborn child and the mother.
The use of forceps can also result in damage to ligaments or muscles in a mother’s abdomen. Such an occurrence can cause what medically is known as organ prolapse. Organ prolapse associated with the use of forceps during childbirth can result in a loss of support for a woman’s uterus, bowel, and bladder. As a consequence, these organs descend downward towards or even through the vaginal opening. The associated complications can be profound, including surgery.
When forceps are used during delivery, a mother is also exposed to the prospect of injury to her bladder. This can have long-term consequences that results in ongoing medical care and treatment following a child’s delivery. Pain can be associated with this type of internal organ injury.
Legal Rights in the Aftermath of Forceps Injuries Arising from Medical Negligence
If you or your child have suffered forceps injuries as a result of medical negligence during the delivery and childbirth process, you best protect your vital legal interests by consulting with an experienced birth injury lawyer. As a standard practice, a medical malpractice attorney charges no fee for an initial consultation with a prospective client.