Forceps are a tool available to doctors to assist with the delivery of babies in circumstances where the anatomy of the mother or positioning of the child requires assistance for a vaginal delivery. In most situations where forceps are used, the doctor encountered some difficultly during the delivery process to necessitate utilization of this tool.
While there indeed may be a sense of urgency to extract the baby, doctors need to be mindful of the dangers that can ensue when forceps aren’t used carefully and with a sure hand.
Though uncommon, the aggressive use if forceps by doctors during delivery can result in serious injury to the baby. The added leverage and force put upon the child with forceps may result in injury to the neck or spinal cord.
A birth injury lawsuit was recently resolved in which a boy’s spinal cord was catastrophically injured by a doctor delivering him who used forceps to extract the boy during pregnancy. Paralyzed from the neck down, the boy requires a ventilator and other types of assistance.
Now 10-years-old and with profound physical disabilities, the lawsuit alleged that the doctors aggressive use of forceps were to blame for the spinal cord injury.
Much of the undisclosed birth injury settlement will be used to pay for the significant medical expenses that the boy has required since birth and will require for the rest of his life. Unlike most birth injury settlements, where settlements are made in a lump sum fashion, the terms of the settlement state that the hospital will make yearly payments to ensure that there is adequate funds to pay for the medical care for the remainder of the child’s life.
Damages for by paralysed due to forceps delivery BBC News, June 16, 2011
Kielland’s forceps- association with neonatal morbidity and mortality (pdf) British Medical Journal, 1979, 1, 7-9