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New York Forceps Injury Attorneys

Medical Malpractice

Doctors rely on many different tools in the labor and delivery room to safely delivery a baby. These very same tools that may be used for safety reasons can also result in serious injuries to both the mother and infant. Forceps are tools used to aid doctors deliver babies during the birthing process. However, if forceps are improperly used, resulting complications may lead to permanent disabilities for the baby and the mother.

If you or your child were injured as a result of the improper use of forceps, you may be entitled to compensation. These cases are complex and require the expertise of a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney. At Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C., our legal team has more than three decades of experience in handling all types of medical malpractice claims, especially injuries to infants caused by the use of forceps during the birthing process.

What Are Forceps?

Forceps used for the birthing process are like large tongs or scissors with gentle loops instead of the blades. Forceps were developed in the early 1600s by a French man who was the personal obstetrician-surgeon to Queen Henriette, wife of King Charles I of England.

Forceps were shown as a safer alternative to hooks and other instruments that caused many infant deaths and continuously failed in devastating ways. Nevertheless, forces were used in secrecy. Doctors carried the forceps into a birthing room in a lined box. The forceps would only be used once the mother was blindfolded and everyone was out of the room.

The design of the forceps significantly evolved in the late 1800s. Tarnier forces were widely used until the development of the C-section and the introduction of the vaccum extractor.

Use of Forceps

Doctors generally use forceps when the baby is not emerging despite the mother’s effort to push. The mother is given an epidural to mask the pain. Then, the birthing team uses the forceps to reach inside and fits it around the baby’s head and pulls out the baby.

Because there are many risks associated with the use of forceps, this tool is only used in situations when certain criteria are met. The pre-requisites of the use of forceps for delivery include:

  • The cervix is dilated and the membrane ruptured and the baby’s head has moved towards the birth canal
  • Labor is not progressing despite the mother’s efforts
  • The position of the baby is known – if the position is unknown, the doctor will need to do an ultrasound to ensure the baby’s position
  • Baby has irregular heartbeat
  • Birthing team has gotten full parental consent and the procedure is clearly explained
  • The mother cannot excessively push on contractions due to health concerns that may pose serious risks
  • Baby’s head is in the wrong position

Contraindications for Forceps Use

If any of the above pre-requisites for the use of forceps during delivery are not in place, a forceps delivery is contraindicated. In most cases, most contraindications to forceps delivery result in serious risks.

Furthermore, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), doctors should not use different tools during birth in a sequential manner. Instead, the physician should only attempt to use one instrument at a time. For example, if the doctor uses forceps, he or she should not subsequently use a vacuum extractor to deliver the baby. Instead, the doctor should opt for a C-section delivery.

Many things can go wrong during the birthing process. If you believe that your baby suffered forceps injury during birth, you should immediately consult with an experienced NY medical malpractice attorney to explore your legal options.

Complications Associate with the Use of Forceps

One of the main uses of forceps is to avoid a cesarean section, which many mothers prefer to avoid because of the serious risks associated with this major surgery. Unfortunately, forceps themselves pose risks, including:

  • Cervical cord injury
  • Bruising and cuts around the head and face
  • Temporary or permanent facial nerve paralysis
  • Cephalohematoma
  • Caput succedaneum
  • Skull fracture
  • Brain damage
  • Deformation
  • Head and facial trauma, leading to cerebral palsy, seizures, and other forms of brain damage
  • Brain hemorrhages or bleeds
  • Neck injury

The mother may also be at risk for certain injuries resulting from the use of forceps, including:

  • Cuts and bruises to the reproductive organs and bladder
  • Erb’s paly
  • Tearing of the rectum and vagina
  • Unnecessary blood loss
  • Rectovaginal fistula (a tear between the vagina and rectum) leading to incontinence and rectal leakage

Holding a Physician Account for a Forceps Injury

Your obstetrician is required to keep you and your baby safe during the birthing process. He or she is required to inform you of the risks involved with using forceps. If you or your baby suffers forceps injury during birth, you may be able to recover compensation.

Getting money damage will not undo the forceps delivery injuries caused to your newborn, but it will help pay for necessary future medical care and treatment. An experienced New York forceps injury can help you get the full compensation that your baby deserves.

Proving a Forceps Birth Injury Case

In order to successfully file a medical malpractice claim against your negligent physician, you will need to prove that the gynecologist failed to conform to the accepted standard of care for obstetricians and that this breach caused the harm that your baby and you suffered. The standard of care generally varies depending on various factors including:

  • The community in which the physician practices
  • The mother’s health
  • Fetal health
  • Other factors related to the delivery

If your attorney can establish liability, you may recover both economic and noneconomic damages.

Statute of Limitation for Bringing a Forceps Injury Claim

A forceps delivery injury can be a heart wrenching time for the entire family. In addition to the physical injury suffered by the newborn, there will most likely be emotional and financial harm as well. The last thing most families want to think about is filing suit.

Unfortunately, there is a tight time limit during which you can bring a forceps birth injury claim. It is important to keep in mind that New York has a two and a half year statute of limitation from the date of injury to bring a medical malpractice claim.

However, under CPLR 208, if a child has a birth injury suffered during the birthing process, the claim must be made before he or she turns ten years old. Other exceptions may still apply. As such, it is important to immediately consult with an experienced NYC birth injury attorney.

Call an Experienced NYC Forceps Delivery Injury Attorney Today!

At Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C., we understand how devastating it is for parents when a newborn has suffered injuries at birth. If you suspect you or your infant were seriously injured due to the improper use of forceps by the birthing team, please call us at 1-800-529-9997 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.

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