Birth injury: family wins $3 million in forceps assisted delivery case

Family seeks justice for birth injury that led to permanent disability.

Complications can arise during childbirth. There are many medical procedures and tools that can help a physician navigate these complications and reduce the risk of any serious injury to the infant and mother. In some cases, a physician may not act in a manner that is accepted within the practice of medicine. When this occurs and the medical professional's actions or inactions contribute to an injury to the patient, the victim can hold the professional accountable through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

A case provides an example. The case involves an infant that became stuck within the birth canal during the labor and delivery process. The obstetrician chose to move forward with a forceps assisted delivery to assist in the birth of child. This tool resembles two large spoons. The physician places one spoon on either side of the infant's head and guides the infant out of the birth canal. A publication by the United States National Library of Medicine explains that a physician is to use the forceps to "gently pull" the infant to assist in the delivery.

The family contends the doctor did not explain the risks of forceps use before he began the procedure. Risks are present to both the mother and the infant. The mother can suffer serious tears of the vaginal area. The infant can suffer nerve damage, lacerations and bleeding within the brain.

The lawsuit states the physician not only failed to explain these risks but also used excessive force with the forceps. This force directly contributed to injury to the infant's shoulder, including permanent nerve damage that has led to paralysis of the child's right arm. A pediatric neurologist diagnosed the injury three months after the delivery. The specialist thoroughly reviewed the infant's right arm. He explained that there are five nerves in the shoulder. During delivery, two of these nerves were completely severed and the remaining three were stretched to the point of non-function.

The infant has already required two additional surgical procedures to provide some mobility to his arm. He will likely need additional medical care, medications and medical devices throughout his life because of this injury. The family chose to hold the physician accountable for his negligent use of force through a medical malpractice lawsuit. The lawsuit was based in negligence. As such, the family needed to establish that the physician violated his duty to the patient and that this violation led to the injury.

The case went before a jury. The jury unanimously agreed with the victim and awarded the family a monetary award of $3 million.

The case serves as a reminder for those who experience a similar injury. Justice is available. You can hold the responsible party accountable for wrongdoing and focus on making the most of life while alleviating some of the financial burden that comes with the injury. Contact an attorney to discuss your options.