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Texas Family Claims Forceps Delivery Injury Caused their Daughter’s Death

Gynecological Instruments - birthThe parents of a girl who died just days after she suffered a forceps delivery birth injury at a Texas hospital plan to sue their obstetrician.

Allen Coats and his fiancée Rachel Melancon plan to file a lawsuit against Dr. George T. Backardjiev, who delivered their daughter Olivia on Dec. 28, 2013, according to an article by ABC News. The parents do not believe there is any hospital malpractice; The Medical Center of Southeast Texas, where Olivia was born, will not be named as a defendant.

Forceps delivery birth injury

The parents claim Backardjiev crushed their daughter’s skull during a forceps delivery, according to the article. Olivia, who suffered brain damage, died on Jan. 2. The parents allege that they repeatedly asked Bakcardjiev to perform a cesarean section delivery due to the baby’s size; Olivia weighed nearly 8 pounds and was 22 inches long. The baby’s mother is less than 5 feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds before her pregnancy.

The family claims the doctor refused her pleas for surgery and instead let her continue in labor for hours as the baby’s heart rate steadily increased and the mother ran a high fever. When Backardjiev eventually came in and had the mother begin pushing, the family claims the doctor discovered the baby was in the wrong position – she was facing up, instead of down – and unsuccessfully tried to move her with his hands, according to the article. Backardjiev then repeatedly tried to remove the baby with forceps, according to the family.

In the end, the baby was delivered by cesarean section. Olivia was transferred to another hospital. She died a few days later when her parents decided to take her off life support.

Reasons for a forceps delivery

Though forceps deliveries are not performed very often due to their risks, doctors may consider these procedures if a pregnant woman’s cervix is fully dilated and the baby is lying headfirst in the birth canal, yet the mother is unable to push the baby out.

Doctors also may recommend that forceps be used to remove babies in these situations:

  • The mother pushes for period of time, but makes no progress
  • The baby’s heart rate indicates a possible problem
  • The baby’s head is facing up, instead of down

Nevertheless, cesarean section deliveries are also appropriate options whenever forceps deliveries are suggested.

Birth injuries associated with a forceps delivery

Forceps deliveries may cause injuries to both mothers and their babies. Mothers can experience anemia, genital tears, trouble urinating, injuries to the bladder, and the muscles in their pelvic organs may weaken. Babies may suffer skull fractures, seizures, bleeding in the skull and minor facial injuries.

When forceps deliveries should not be performed

Many medical professionals likely will avoid forceps deliveries in several scenarios. Doctors should consider other alternatives if medical professionals are unaware of the location of the baby’s head, if the child suffers from a bone or bleeding disorder, if the baby is too large to fit through the mother’s pelvis or the newborn’s arms and shoulders are positioned first in the birth canal. If a doctor performed a forceps delivery in any of above-mentioned circumstances, their actions may rise to the level of medical malpractice.