Disastrous Use of Forceps Causes Significant Brian Injury and $42 Million Ruling


A federally employed doctor’s careless and powerful use of forceps during the delivery of a child caused significant and irreparable brain damage. Because of his actions, a federal judge ordered the U.S. government to pay $42 million to the child’s family.

In this issue, we’ll talk about what happened in this case and share information about the potential dangers of forceps.

The Case at a Glance

The judge ruled that the use of the forceps by the doctor cracked the child’s skull and destroyed portions of his brain.

“The brain injuries are severe, permanent, and will prevent (the child) from performing life’s basic functions and caring for himself,” the judge said as she delivered the ruling.

How The $42 Million is to be Broken Down

According to the lawyer representing the child’s family, “…the government argued that we were overreaching and over-magnifying the injuries, but the judge approved our entire life care plan.”

That plan breaks down like this:

  • $9.28 million in future surgeries, therapy and care facilities
  • $32.3 million in economic damages from loss of future earnings

The judge was presented with three estimates in determining future economic losses for the child. They were based on the child possibly attaining different levels of education had he not been injured; they included a high school diploma, an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree.

Dangers Posed by Improper Use of Forceps During Delivery

As we’ve said before, there are a host of reasons for forceps to be used during the delivery of a child, including:

  • Sudden and major bleeding by the mother (hemorrhage)
  • Abnormal heart rate or pattern from the baby
  • Prolonged second stage of labor
  • Mother experiencing illness or condition that would make pushing during labor difficult

Among the certain conditions that must be met before the attending physician reaches for the forceps are the:

  • Cervix being fully dilated
  • Baby’s position being confirmed
  • Mother’s bladder must be empty
  • Baby’s head being fully engaged

If the forceps are not used the right way, risks to the child include:

  • Bleeding within the skull
  • Skull fracture
  • Brain injury and permanent damage
  • Facial injuries resulting from the pressure used
  • Weakness in the facial muscles (facial palsy)

The Bottom Line

With procedures well known for proper use, there’s practically no excuse for them being used the wrong way – especially during a time when a child’s body is so vulnerable as it is during delivery.

If your child experienced a birth injury, we’d like to talk with you about how you can secure the resources you need.

Call us here at The Fitzgerald Law Firm; our number is (800) 323-9900, and there’s never a charge for the first meeting.