Forceps negligently used during woman’s first labour

26th February 2019

A 25-year-old woman has received £7,000 after forceps were negligently used and she underwent an unnecessary surgical procedure during labour.

The woman, who is from Warwickshire, was admitted to George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton to be induced with her first baby.

She was 39 weeks and five days pregnant on the day she was admitted in July 2017.

During the assessment prior to induction of labour, the foetus was considered to be in an occipital posterior position – head down but facing the abdomen. The effect of this was that the fetal head was not fully descended within the pelvis at the start of labour/induction.


A review of the fetal heart traces (CTGs) after this time indicated a significant change in that there was reduced variability and a sequence of deep decelerations. This was interpreted incorrectly when reviewed by midwives and it wasn’t until 7.30pm when the abnormal tracing didn’t improve that a Registrar was called to attend.

The induction process and labour progressed satisfactorily until around 6.30pm two days after she was admitted.

The consultant on call instructed the Registrar to perform fetal blood sampling (FBS) to ascertain whether there was fetal hypoxia and to transfer to theatre if necessary.

The woman was transferred to the Maternity Theatre for instrumental delivery, however the fetal blood sampling was not ever carried out, despite the Consultant’s instruction and ample opportunity to do so.

There was a 41 minute delay between the decision for trial of forceps and the first blade being applied.

During the procedure the Registrar performed the three pulls outlined within the Trust and national guidelines. Each of these three pulls were performed with such force that the woman was dragged down the bed and had to be repositioned by the team after each pull.

Following the third pull, the Registrar performed an episiotomy. The Registrar then proceeded to pull for a fourth time. The Labour Ward Coordinator asked the Registrar to abandon the instrumental delivery and now proceed to Caesarean section as the number of pulls permitted had been exceeded and the vertex was not advancing.

The claimant witnessed the coordinator’s challenge and was concerned when the Registrar had replied ‘It’s here’ prior to the fourth pull, but then heard the announcement to proceed to a Caesarean section.

She believed that the fetal head had been delivered but the baby could not be born which caused her a great deal of distress. However, the Trust’s investigation report confirmed that the upper surface of the head wasn’t in fact visible.

A report supported the claimant’s case with regards to excessive force being used in trying to deliver the baby by forceps. It was identified in the report that there was ‘evidence of minimal descent during the incident and the patient was being pulled down the bed which required repositioning after each pull’ and a premature episiotomy was performed. Tearing was caused by the positioning of the forceps and the force used.

The baby was delivered by Caesarean section and records do not indicate any difficulties with the extraction. If the baby had been deep in the birth canal and the head near the perineum there would have been a degree of difficulty to disengage the head from the pelvis at Caesarean section.

During an initial review, the baby was noted to have marked bruising to the left side of his face and a deep indentation to his left cheek. Full admissions have been made with regards to his injuries caused by the negligent use of forceps. The episiotomy led to unnecessary, painful damage to the perineum requiring surgical repair.

The woman suffered with pain and suffering associated with the unnecessary application of forceps and an episiotomy that required surgical repair.

The woman contacted Fletchers Solicitors who were able to pursue a claim for medical negligence against George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust on her behalf.

Stephanie Davies, litigation executive in the medical negligence department at Fletchers Solicitors, said: “It was a pleasure to work for and successfully settle this young lady’s case.

“I hope that the compensation awarded will go towards the Claimant moving forward from this distressing and painful ordeal that could have been easily avoided.

“I hope that she can now look forward to her and her son’s bright future.”

The woman said that she’d like to thank Stephanie for the service that she received.

She said: “It was an absolutely perfect service, Stephanie has been a great help.”

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