Medical Verdicts

Did forceps delivery lead to infant brain damage?


Washington County (Wis) Circuit Court—A primipara presented to her Ob/Gyn in labor complaining of pain and fatigue. Because the fetal monitor strips suggested possible abnormal readings, the obstetrician opted to use a vacuum to expedite delivery but was unsuccessful. The physician recommended a cesarean, but the mother refused. After the vacuum device failed once again, the obstetrician attempted forceps delivery. At birth, both the placenta and umbilical cord were infected. The baby was born with severe brain damage. She now suffers from spastic cerebral palsy, requires the use of a wheelchair, and can only communicate via sign language.

In suing, the parents alleged that the physician improperly placed the forceps, causing an obstruction in the blood flow to the fetus’ brain.

The obstetrician contended that the forceps were properly placed and correctly used, and that the child’s brain damage was a result of injuries sustained prior to labor and delivery.

The jury awarded the plaintiff $7.25 million.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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