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Legal: Forceps blamed for sphincter laceration

Sphincter laceration due to forceps delivery

A 31-year-old Pennsylvania woman was delivered with the assistance of forceps in 2003. She had a fourth-degree laceration and subsequently experienced constipation and difficulty controlling bowel movements and was unable to have sexual intercourse. Nine months later she underwent reconstruction.

The patient sued the delivering obstetrician and claimed she would continue to have impaired bowel movements and difficulty with intercourse. She alleged the forceps were not appropriate and were prematurely used when the fetus was at +2 station.

The obstetrician claimed there was no negligence and a laceration was a known complication of vaginal delivery with or without forceps and alleged the patient now has no ongoing problems. The parties reached a confidential high/low agreement during jury deliberations.

Department editor DAWN COLLINS, JD, is an attorney specializing in medical malpractice in Long Beach, CA. She welcomes feedback on this column via e-mail to DawnCF@aol.com