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Birth Injuries Due to Forceps or Vacuum Extractor Misuse

Birth Injuries Due to Forceps or Vacuum Extractor

The use of forceps in the delivery of an infant can be lifesaving under some circumstances. Under others, though, forceps are used inappropriately, and cause more harm than they prevent. If forceps were used in the delivery of your baby, and you or your baby suffered injury, you may be wondering if medical malpractice was involved.

Why do obstetricians use forceps or vacuum extractors?

You may have been given any number of reasons for your doctor's use of forceps, including:

  • Your labor was not progressing after a reasonable period of time
  • Baby facing the wrong direction (occiput posterior position)
  • Concerns about the baby's heartbeat
  • Concerns about your health that might have limited your ability to push for an extended period
  • You were exhausted and unable to continue pushing

Most of the time, if an obstetrician is faced with the choice of using forceps, a caesarean section is also an option. Your doctor should have given you the facts about each procedure, including what would make it appropriate and what risks each procedure involves. Only after receiving and understanding this information would you be able to give your informed consent.

What are the risks of vacuum extractors or forceps?

If you or your child were injured by forceps or a vacuum extractor, you already know some of what can go wrong. Potential risks include:

  • Intracranial bleeding
  • Skull fracture
  • Facial palsy
  • Eye trauma
  • Seizures

In addition, you may have suffered injury yourself, including bleeding, damage leading to incontinence or uterine rupture.

How do you know if a forceps injury was caused by malpractice?

It may not always be obvious whether a birth injury was avoidable obstetrical malpractice. It may require investigation by an experienced Oregon medical malpractice attorney to review your medical record and get to the bottom of what happened. Malpractice is not merely a bad outcome; it is when a medical professional does not act as a reasonable doctor would in the same situation, and the patient is harmed.

This can happen in a number of ways. As noted above, the doctor may not have provided you with all the information you needed to make an informed decision to allow the use of forceps. The doctor may have had inadequate training in the use of forceps. The hospital may not have taken a thorough medical history or performed an examination that would have revealed a condition contraindicating forceps use.

An experienced medical malpractice attorney will be able to help you discern whether there was something the doctor or hospital should have done differently in your forceps birth. Importantly, an attorney who regularly handles birth injury cases is familiar with more than just the legal aspects. They know that you are either grieving a loss or raising a small child, possibly one with special needs. They are also familiar with the stresses a medical malpractice lawsuit and trial entail. An ethical attorney will never encourage you to pursue a case unless they believe you have a reasonable chance of success.

To learn more about what's involved in a birth injury malpractice case, and whether pursuing one is right for you, contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Categories: Medical Malpractice

Blog Disclaimer

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent medical malpractice attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

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