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Can a bad judgment call lead to a birth injury?

When it comes to delivering a baby and what the best course of action is to take, parents rely on the expertise of their doctors to make the right call when it comes to the birthing process. If the doctor says forceps should be used, or that it is time for a cesarean section -- especially in the moment of delivery -- most parents will just trust that the doctor's advice is solid and go forward with the plan.

This is all fine and good, except when the unthinkable happens: A bad judgment call made by a medical professional leads to a birth injury. Now, new parents are not only worried about the health of their newborn, but are wondering what legal action - if any - they can take.

Birth injuries can happen for a number of reasons, including a bad judgment call on when to use forceps. There are a number of conditions that must be met prior to using forceps to assist with the delivery. These include:

  • The mother must have an empty bladder
  • The baby's head must be in the correct position
  • Timing is everything. Using them too early or too late is never a good idea.
  • The medical professional must be properly trained on how to effectively use forceps
  • If injury to the mother or baby is a risk, a cesarean section should be ordered instead

Of course, there are plenty of legitimate reasons why a medical professional will suggest using forceps to assist with delivery. As the Mayo Clinic points out, there are times when the baby is in danger and delivery is the top priority. In certain cases, forceps can move the process along, which is also necessary if the delivery process has been going on -- with no progression -- for too long.

However, there are sadly other cases where forceps are used incorrectly and the baby or mother suffers injuries. Risks to the baby include facial paralysis, seizures or a skull fracture. To the mother, risks include uterine rupture, pelvic organ prolapse and injuries to the bladder or urethra.

If a bad judgment call on the part of the medical professional led to the injuries, though, legal recourse may be available. An attorney who handles birth injury cases will be able to provide you with more information.

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