New Jersey Forceps Injury Lawyers
Attorneys for Children with Forceps Birth Injuries in NJ
Forceps are common tools that doctors may use to assist with a difficult vaginal birth, known as an operative vaginal delivery. Most women prefer vaginal births, so obstetricians may use forceps or vacuum deliveries in lieu of a c-section. However, cesarean deliveries are typically the default option when complicated births occur. Still, some in the medical world believe that women should have alternative options to surgery. And while they are sometimes necessary, forceps deliveries are less favored than vacuum extraction or cesarean births when complications arise. In fact, forceps can cause the child lifelong disability and cerebral palsy when used improperly.
You may have concerns about your baby’s growth and development after an instrument-assisted delivery with forceps, in which case it is vital to consult an experienced forceps injury lawyer who can advise you of your rights. If your obstetrician failed to make the right choice during labor and delivery or improperly used forceps, ultimately causing your child injury, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. When medical negligence with assisted delivery occurs, children and their families have the right to file a lawsuit for damages to pay for the child’s short and long-term medical needs, as well as to compensate the victims for their undue pain and suffering. Our highly skilled New Jersey forceps injury lawyer can assist you and your loved ones with obtaining the compensation you so deserve. Contact us today at (866)-708-8617 to discuss your child’s case in a free consultation.
Obstetrical forceps, which look like cupped salad tongs, are used in a birthing center or hospital to gently extract and guide a baby’s head from the birth canal when labor is not progressing, despite the mother’s pushing. The forceps are applied to the baby’s head during a contraction while the mother pushes. The doctor places their fingers between the baby’s head and the vaginal wall to insert each one of the forceps’ sides to lock in the baby’s head. The forceps help the doctor guide the baby out of the canal or rotate the baby if face up, until the delivery looks like it is imminent or other options must be considered. Then the forceps are removed.
Before using forceps, the healthcare provider might try other methods to help labor progress, like adjusting the mother’s anesthetic for more productive pushing or medication, such as Pitocin, to induce stronger contractions. A vacuum assisted birth may also be considered in lieu of the forceps, or a c-section may be recommended.
When Forceps may be Used During Birth
Only if the baby is positioned in the birth canal head first and face down, after the mother’s membrane has broken and the cervix is fully dilated, should the physician consider using forceps. Further, forceps should only be the chosen option if the mother has been pushing for three or more hours without success, is completely exhausted, or shows signs of serious health problems (heart problems, for instance, that make pushing too long hazardous), the fetus’s heart rate signals distress and forceps are faster than a c-section. However, research shows that an emergency C-section might be safer than forceps under the same conditions, and there is less likelihood of fetal injury.
For certain cases, like undiagnosed breech presentation at full dilation, delivering the second baby in the case of twins, delivery of premature babies or a face presentation, forceps may be safer than vacuum extraction. Forceps delivery is faster than vacuum extraction delivery, which is critical when the fetus is in distress. Also, they may be safer than vacuum when the mother has cardiac, respiratory and neurological medical conditions that are worsened with effort that she would need for vacuum extraction while pushing or when the mother’s efforts are hampered because of an epidural analgesia. Outlet forceps can be used even in a caesarean birth to control delivery of the baby’s head. And women recover faster with fewer hospital readmissions with instrument-assisted delivery than c-sections, which has significant implications. However, a forceps delivery means more analgesics to the mother in comparison to vacuum extraction.
When Forceps Should not be Used for Delivery
A doctor might choose a c-section over forceps when the baby has weak bones due to osteogenesis imperfecta, or a bleeding disorder; the baby is not far enough down the birth canal (not past the midpoint); the mother has a small pelvis; the baby is not coming out head first; or the position of the baby is unknown. In any case, the mother should be consulted if there is enough time. Though there are risks to the cesarean birth, injury and trauma to the baby are more likely in a forceps delivery. And while pelvic floor injury to mother and trauma to the baby are more common in forceps delivery, serious hemorrhaging to the mother and maternal separation from the baby are more common in cesarean deliveries. Moreover, the psychological costs bearing on future pregnancy is greater with c-section than vaginal birth. As such, a mother may be reluctant to go through the pain and recovery of another c-section.
Complications from Misuse of Forceps
A doctor who chooses forceps must be experienced in their use to skillfully grip the baby’s head, avoiding head damage due to incorrect gripping, wrong placement of the forceps, or too much force. The physician must be expert in the three main types of forceps used, outlet, mid-cavity or rotational, whichever they use. A wrong twist with the forceps can lead to extensive spinal cord and brain damage to the baby.
Forceps can cause two types of hematomas, or pooling of blood or other fluids around the brain: subgaleal hematomas and cephalohematomas. The first happens when veins outside of the brain and head rupture, leading to fluid pooling between the skull and scalp, swelling and skull pressure, potentially resulting in brain damage. The second hematoma is blood pooling outside of the critical brain-skull area, which is less damaging. Brain injuring fluid build-up may also be hydrocephalus or swelling that traps cerebrospinal fluid inside of the brain pathways. The swelling fluid causes brain damage. An intracranial hemorrhage, or brain bleed, damages the brain when blood vessels rupture. All forceps injuries potentially leave neurological brain damage leading to serious lifelong diseases, some incurable like cerebral palsy, due to pressure on the brain and brain damage.
Other risks to the fetus include eye trauma, skull fractures, nerve damage, seizures, facial palsy and facial injuries. If the forceps pull the baby’s head and stretch the brachial plexus (nerves that run down the neck, spine and arm), the child may end up with Erb’s palsy or brachial plexus injury, which results in paralysis or weakness in the affected arm. Another risk from improperly performed delivery with forceps is shoulder dystocia, which occurs when the baby’s shoulder jams up against the mother’s pubic bone after the head is delivered, risking not only brachial nerve damage to the baby but hemorrhage to the mother.
Risks for the mother in birthing a child generally, but more so with forceps delivery, include: genital tears, post-delivery pain in the perineum (tissue between vagina and anus), ruptured uterus, difficulty urinating or emptying the bladder, urethra damage, weakened muscles in the pelvic region (prolapse), wounds, blood loss, urinary or fecal incontinence, and anemia. Notably, an episiotomy (cutting the tissue between the vagina and anus) may have to be performed to allow the forceps.
Malpractice Lawsuit for Negligence with Forceps in Birth
The birthing team of doctors, nurses, midwives and others need to make the best decisions given all the factors, often in an emergency delivery situation, weighing the performance of a c-section against the use of forceps or vacuum extraction. If the doctor had enough information to weigh one way or another but chose the wrong method that led to injury, or if the doctor improperly or too forcefully used the forceps instruments, possible medical malpractice should be explored. Other considerations when investigating possible negligence during birth include the medical team’s failure to obtain a full obstetrical history, manage gestational diabetes, correctly estimate the size of the fetus before delivery, and other failures to anticipate complications, all of which are potential preventative measures to avoid an emergency instrument-assisted delivery.
New Jersey’s medical malpractice laws hold your medical professionals to a standard of care expected of competent practitioners in the field they practice, and failure to do so may mean that you have grounds for a lawsuit. Botched deliveries have yielded compensatory awards in the millions, providing the much-needed financial resources that birth injury victims and their families deserve. Finding out if you or your child has a valid medical malpractice lawsuit is crucial to ensure that you file a claim within the applicable statute of limitations with the help of an experienced attorney.
Consult a Knowledgeable Forceps Birth Injury Attorney in NJ
If your baby suffered forceps injuries in New Jersey, address your questions and concerns about your child’s birth injuries by consulting with an attorney familiar with instrument-assisted birth malpractice. Likewise, if you delivered a child and experienced complications due to the use or misuse of forceps, you should seek knowledgeable legal counsel. Our birth injury lawyers assist children and mothers who suffer harm due to medical negligence before, during, and after delivery and we are here to provide the help you need now. Call (866)-708-8617 to consult with an attorney free of charge today.