While forceps are one of the oldest medical instruments used to assist vaginal delivery, the risks are unknown to most parents. According to the Mayo Clinic, the need for forceps during birth occurs in the second stage of labor when you are pushing, if labor isn’t progressing or if the baby’s safety depends on speeding up the delivery. It is not too hard to imagine parents in distress rushing to agree to the use of forceps at this pressured moment when the baby’s and mother’s lives are at risk.
A lot is riding on this decision because there are risks associated with forceps. Moreover, Maryland law requires physicians to use appropriate care in applying the forceps and for parents to give what is known as “informed consent.” With experienced legal representation, you can receive financial compensation for injuries resulting from the use of forceps.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries caused by forceps, contact the accomplished team of attorneys of Bennett and Heyman, P.A., known throughout Baltimore for their quality legal services for victims of birth injuries. Our accomplished team of birth injury attorneys in Baltimore understand the intricate issues that arise in medical malpractice cases. Call our offices at (410) 727-2168 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
Suing for Medical Malpractice Negligence During Child Birth
Medical malpractice cases are based on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence claims are civil lawsuits filed to seek recovery for injuries occurring due to someone’s oversight or careless actions. Baltimore attorneys have to comply with requirements and certifications needed to submit these legal cases.
Medical practitioners are expected to carry out their work following the recommended standard of care. In the case of births, health care providers must follow medical protocols. For example, the suggestion of forceps is warranted if the labor isn’t progressing, or the baby’s heartbeat suggests a problem or if there is a valid health concern to limit the amount of time a mother should push. However, when this happens, the physician must use adequate skill in recommending and applying forceps.
The recommendation of forceps must be well thought out because these assisted delivery instruments are supposed to help the mother during contractions. If there are issues inhibiting contractions, a forceps application may be a negligent oversight. Based on our experience, expert health care providers can look at the medical information to determine if there was malpractice in the forceps recommendation.
Moreover, when an OBGYN is not trained and skilled in using forceps, there can be negligence occurrences that cause severe and life-long injuries such as:
- Brain damage
- Paralysis of the neck and/or spine
- Facial nerve damage
Informed Consent Laws for Medical Procedures in Maryland
Maryland law requires parents to give informed consent about medical decisions. There are times when doctors fail to provide patients with the information needed to make educated decisions. One common problem is the failure to inform parents of other alternatives such as a Cesarean section (C-section) or vacuum extraction.
While every procedure carries its risks, medical practitioners have a legal duty to inform patients in Maryland about their options:
- The nature of the medical condition
- The nature and risks of available treatment
- The probability of success of the recommended course of action
- The frequency of and types of risks
- Possible alternatives to the prescribed treatment
For most parents choosing the use of forceps, the moment of the decision can be blurry and confusing at the second stage of delivery. However, the health care provider has a professional duty to inform you of the risks. There is a legal definition of risk in Maryland. A risk in Maryland is considered information “a physician knows or ought to know would be significant to a reasonable person in the patient’s position in deciding whether or not to have the particular medical treatment or procedure.” McQuitty v. Spangler (2009). Based on the circumstances of your case, your attorney can help you determine if the physician adequately explained the risks to you and your baby’s health as a result of the use of forceps during birth.
Patient Risks of Forceps Use
Concerning the use of forceps, physicians should caution the following risks for the mother:
- Tract tears in the lower genital area
- Injuries to the bladder or urethra that can cause urinary incontinence
- Pain and injuries to the perineum after delivery
- Difficulties urinating
- Risk of episiotomy, an incision of the tissue between the vagina and anus
- Fecal incontinence
Physicians should caution parents about the following risks for the baby:
- Palsy or paralysis
- Skull fractures
- Bleeding within the skull
- Facial injuries
- Eye trauma
- Weakness in facial muscles
Call Our Baltimore Attorneys for Birth Injuries Caused by Forceps
If you are contemplating filing a lawsuit, there is a small time window you must keep in mind. Maryland law requires negligence lawsuits within five years of the time when the injury occurs or three years after the injury is discovered. If you were not informed of some of the risks above, or you are not sure if you were, and you or your baby are enduring the pain and losses of serious injuries, your physician may be held legally responsible due to informed consent negligence. Your attorney can help you more concretely ascertain the failures in providing vital information and if there are causes of action that can be pursued.
At Bennett and Heyman, P.A., you will find knowledgeable and diligent attorneys who will fight proactively for your rights. Time may be of the essence for filing if you are contemplating a lawsuit. Keep in mind that payment for our fees will only occur if we obtain a monetary settlement or a monetary award (if the case goes to trial). To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at (410) 727-2168.