Lacerations and Injuries Caused by Use of Forceps
Forceps used during delivery of a baby can cause marks and bruises on the newborn's face and head. While depressed skulls are uncommon, most of them result from the use of forceps during delivery. Forceps scars, swelling and bruising may all be temporary injuries that disappear over time. But not all such injuries or their consequences are temporary. The use of forceps has fallen out of favor, but they are usually used when the baby is in distress and must be delivered quickly.
Complications from Improper Use of Forceps
Using forceps requires specialized skills, training and experience. Doctors should not attempt a forceps delivery without having all three, according to many obstetricians. An obstetrician should know his or her limitations and be sure to heed them.
Because use of the forceps requires special skill and knowledge, complications from their improper use are not unusual and can have serious consequences. Forceps deliveries result in more marks and bruising of the newborn's face.
These happen in 17 percent of infants delivered by forceps. Although most of these injuries are minor, poorly done forceps deliveries may cause injuries with long-term consequences. Facial nerve injuries can be temporary or permanent.
There is greater concern with an increased incidence of:
- Intracranial (within the brain and cerebrospinal fluid) bleeding being associated with forceps deliveries
- Skull fractures occurring at the rate (in one report) of 1 in 4500 forceps deliveries
- Cerebral palsy and a slightly decreased IQ score
The risk of complications to the mother and the newborn is increased when a forceps delivery is attempted after a vacuum extraction fails. According to one study, the odds increased for bleeding in the central nervous system and for seizures in babies being born using a combination of forceps and vacuum extraction. Another study found an increase in the occurrence of injuries to the brachial plexus (a network of nerves that begin near the neck and shoulder) and facial nerves.
Contact a Birth Injury Lawyer
Those persons who improperly use a forceps to deliver a child who is born with birth injuries should be held liable for their mistakes. To speak with a birth injury lawyer about your child's birth injury, please contact us today.