A jury awarded an Iowa City couple a $97.4 million civil verdict for a baby injured during delivery, according to The Gazette. The jury determined the baby’s injuries were due to improper use of forceps and vacuum tools, which are used to help extract a baby during a difficult delivery. The mistakes made during the delivery left the baby with severe cerebral palsy, which will require a lifetime of round-the-clock care.
According to KCRG, an ABC affiliate, the nearly $98-million verdict will be split by evenly between the doctor’s office and Mercy Iowa City and covers the following expenses estimated for the lifecare of the child, including:
- $42 million for future medical and care expenses
- $11.6 million for loss of future earnings
- $20 million for pain and suffering
- $20 million for loss of function of the mind and body
According to facts reported in The Gazette, it was determined that a C-section should have been ordered for the mother, Kathleen Kromphardt, as dictated by medical best practices for a baby that is in fetal distress. Instead, the doctor continued to attempt a vaginal delivery, leading to a hypoxic brain injury, which is when the baby’s brain is not receiving proper oxygen. The situation got progressively worse as the forceps used to extract the baby created a skull fracture, resulting in brain damage. A third finding was related to the use of vacuum extraction, which is a tool that uses suction rather than the clamping mechanics of forceps.
Forceps and vacuum tools are still accepted tools in difficult deliveries. According to the Mayo Clinic, forceps should only be considered in the following situations:
- You’re pushing, but labor isn’t progressing. Labor is considered prolonged if you haven’t made progress after a certain period of time.
- Your baby’s heartbeat suggests a problem. If you are fully dilated, the baby is low in the birth canal, and your health care provider is concerned about changes in your baby’s heartbeat, an immediate delivery may be necessary. In such a case, he or she might recommend a forceps delivery.
- You have a health concern. If you have certain medical conditions — such as heart disease or high blood pressure — your health care provider might limit the amount of time you push.
The Mayo Clinic also notes that a forceps delivery should never be attempted unless a C-section can be done, if needed.
According to Healthline Parenthood, there are other conditions that must be met before an assisted delivery should be attempted:
- The birthing parent must be fully dilated.
- The presentation of the baby must be known (the position baby is facing) and the baby’s head should be engaged (meaning baby’s head has dropped down into the pelvis). The baby’s head must be low enough in the pelvis for the forceps or /vacuum to be used.
- The membranes must be ruptured, either spontaneously or by a healthcare provider.
- The pregnant parent’s bladder must be empty.
- Consent must be obtained from the birthing parent.
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Brown & Brown represents families who have been harmed by the negligence of doctors. We are committed to helping mothers and babies who were injured during birth receive the medical care they need, whether it’s one surgery or a lifetime of treatment. Our lawyers will hold negligent medical professionals accountable for their actions and do what is necessary to make sure your family is cared for, supported, and financially sound during this difficult time. Your first step toward justice is a no-cost consultation with our dedicated legal team. To learn about your options and rights following a birth injury, contact our firm today.