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Federal government is liable for botched forceps delivery

Expectant parents in Kentucky who are concerned about birth injuries should know about a ruling that was issued by a Pennsylvania court against the federal government. The government will be required to pay $41.6 million in compensation after an obstetrician working at a health clinic funded by the federal government was deemed negligent in the use of forceps to deliver a baby. The baby sustained permanent brain damage because of the medical care.

According to the lawsuit, the excessive traction and force and the mishandling of the forceps on the baby's skull by the obstetrician resulted in disastrous neurological damage to the baby. An expert witness who testified at the trial stated that the use of forceps in these types of deliveries are an option reserved for severe cases in which a life is at risk. Another witness testified that the baby incurred bleeding in the brain, multiple skull fractures and damage to the brain stem and cerebellum as a result of the use of the forceps.

The Federal Tort Claims Act discards the immunity of the federal government in lawsuits pertaining to medical malpractice. Such claims against the government that stem from negligence that occurs in federally-funded hospitals typically have to adhere to the medical malpractice laws of the state in which the injury took place, with the exception of certain notice requirements and a different statute of limitations. However, the claims can only apply to those who are employed by the federal government facility and not those who are classified as independent contractors. The cap on damages on the medical malpractice cases filed under the FTCA is also determined by state law.

Deliveries that result in some form of birth trauma, such as a brain injury, a uterine rupture or an extractor injury, may be a result of medical malpractice. Parents of a newborn who has been harmed in such a manner may want to meet with an attorney in order to see what recourse might be available.

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