Obstetric forceps are surgical instruments that are sometimes used to assist in a vaginal delivery. When using forceps, which look like a pair of metal spoons, the OB guides the baby through the birth canal. Each blade has two curves, the cephalic, which conforms to the head of the baby, and the pelvis, which conforms to the mother's pelvis.
Unlike a vacuum, another medical device to facilitate childbirth, use of forceps requires a higher level of skill and training. How well you use forceps and knowing when to use forceps matters a great deal to the safe delivery of the child.
There is nothing wrong with a competent obstetrician using forceps in some circumstances during childbirth. In fact, there are some cases where it is negligent not to use forceps.
But those cases are rare exceptions. More often, malpractice cases arise when the delivering doctors either should not be using forceps, are using the wrong forceps or using the wrong technique to deliver the child safely. Using the wrong forceps or the wrong technique is becoming more common because younger obstetricians are not getting trained in how to properly use forceps. Our obstetrician experts are telling us that the new generation of OBs are using vacuums far more often because they are easier to use. So when these younger doctors have a baby in distress, they do not know when or how to use forceps.
If you believe your child has been harmed during childbirth by doctors, who did not do what they should to safely deliver your child, call us today at 800-553-8082. You can also get a free, confidential online case evaluation. Let's talk about what happened and what the options might be for you and your child.
- What is the expected settlement value of a forceps birth injury case?
- Forceps birth injury frequently asked questions
There are four times of forceps: low, mid, high, and outlet. Low forceps means the child's head is visible at the mother's vaginal opening without doing anything. Mid forceps means that the baby's head has entered the mother's pelvis but is not quite visible at the opening of the vagina. High forceps are the application of forceps when the baby's head is just entering the mother's pelvis (known as station zero). We can take this one off the table because it is no longer performed in modern obstetrics. Outlet forceps is when the baby's head fetal head is underneath the pelvis and its child's scalp is appears between contraction.
There are no alarms going off during low or outlet forceps deliveries. The baby is progressing nicely and the doctor is choosing to used low forceps to speed up childbirth.
Mid forceps means that the baby's head has entered the mother's pelvis but is not quite visible at the opening of the vagina. Doctors are using mid-forceps in only 1% of deliveries. Alarms are going off -- or should be -- when this mid forceps is required.
Mid-forceps deliveries are typically used when there is more of a problem such as the baby head being positions against the mother's back. The baby should also be horizontal in the uterus or other positions where the baby's head has entered the birth canal at an odd angle.
Many birth injury malpractice cases are mid-forceps deliveries. These are higher risk birth processes. The higher the baby's head, the greater the risk. There is no question that the mid-forceps delivery is more technically demanding on the OB. The risk of shoulder dystocia may go up as high as 10-to-17 fold.
Mid forceps should never be used by an inexperienced OB, cases of cephalopelvic disproportion, or when the mother with a full urinary bladder. A mid-forceps delivery causes potential harm to the child in all of the
Often, the safer path is a c-section. Mid forceps deliveries are way down from what they were 20 years ago. Many medical malpractice birth injury cases are botched mid-forceps delivery where the OB never bothers to investigate the availability of back-up of how quickly a c-section team can be assembled.
There are four types of breaches of the standard of care we often see in forceps cases.
- Forceps application timing - Forceps delivery should not be attempted unless and until the station of the fetal head is low enough to ensure a safe operative procedure
- Forceps placement - The obstetrician must know the appropriate position of the fetal head to properly place the device on the child
- Only one mechanical instrument - The doctor can only use one mechanical device. If the forceps fail, you cannot turn to a vacuum or vise versa.
- Careful application - Forceps traction must not be applied until proper forceps placement is verified. The use of this delivery device with improperly placed forceps presents a risk of harm to the child, not the least of which is a brain bleed. It is also important to use the appropriate amount of traction. Intense squeezing or pulling put the child at risk for a fetal injury.
If your child has suffered a birth injury because a doctor improperly or unnecessarily used forceps during the birth of your baby, our law firm has the experience and resources to help you both get the cash compensation you deserve for the harm that has been caused. Call Miller & Zois today and speak to a childbirth injury medical malpractice attorney at 800-553-8082 or get an online case evaluation.More Malpractice Claim Information