Forceps are metal instruments that are periodically used during child birth
to ease the baby out. Forceps have two round cups on each end, which fit
around the baby’s head. A physician may use forceps during delivery
if the baby is in fetal distress, is abnormally positioned, or the mother
is having difficulty pushing.
Generally, the use of forceps during delivery is safe if the tools are
used properly. The risk for injury increases if the doctor misuses the
tool and causes injury to the skull and/or brain. If the proper standard
of care is not used by the physician, the forceps can cause a birth injury,
which may result in facial nerve damage, spinal injuries, bruising and
lacerations, skull fractures, brain hemorrhaging, shoulder dislocation,
bone fractures, brain damage, or cerebral palsy. Forceps can also cause
the formation of blood clots inside blood vessels, which can lead to stroke
in the baby or the mother.
Diagnosis & Care
Facial nerve palsy is the loss of voluntary muscle movement in an infant’s
face due to trauma just before or at the time of delivery. Nerve damage
may appear on the side of a baby’s face, particularly when the baby
laughs or cries. If the baby’s face appears asymmetrical or uneven,
there may be permanent nerve damage. Cerebral palsy develops when damage
is done to the cerebrum of the brain, which generally results in motor
control difficulties. There is currently no known cure for cerebral palsy.
Baby’s are not the only patient’s at risk for complications
during a birth in which forceps are used by the physician; mother’s
are at an increased risk for lacerations, urinary tract infections, rectum
injuries, as well as stroke.
Depending on the extent of the injury, expenses families incur due to birth
injuries caused by misuse of forceps vary. Cerebral palsy is the second
most expensive developmental disability in terms of the cost of care over
the course of a lifetime. The average lifetime cost is just under $1 million.
For some injuries, including facial paralysis, surgery may be needed,
as well as physical therapy. If you suspect your child’s birth injury
is the result of improper use of forceps during delivery, our experienced
medical malpractice lawyers may be able to recover compensation for you
and your family.
Contact the Law Offices of Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt for a
In most cases, an infant who has suffered a birth injury will be closely
monitored to see if the injury or condition goes away on its own. Infants
with permanent paralysis will need special therapy, sometimes for the
rest of their lives.
Books & Resources
For more information on nerve injuries to newborns from the use of forceps
during delivery, the following resources are available: