Birthing injuries involving forceps are on the rise in Canada

Childbirth is an unforgettable experience, but also a risky moment in a woman’s life, even in a country like Canada where doctors have access to advanced medical technology. As obstetrical malpractice lawyers can attest, medical errors or omissions during childbirth can cause injuries that have serious, long-lasting impacts on a mother or child.

A study published recently in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that injuries during childbirth are on the rise in Canada, especially among deliveries involving forceps.  The study included almost two-million one-baby deliveries occurring in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario between 2004 and 2015.

The Mayo Clinic describes forceps as “an instrument shaped like a pair of large spoons or salad tongs.” They are used in operative vaginal deliveries where certain problems exist, such as stalled labour, heartbeat issues, or the baby facing the wrong direction. The benefits of forceps deliveries include reduced delivery times and avoiding Caesarian-section (C-section).

However, there are also risks, and the risks are growing. The authors of the Canadian Medical Association Journal study declared that their findings suggest “the safety of the procedures is declining in Canada, especially after forceps use.” In 2004, 19.4 per cent of first-time mothers suffered birthing injuries during forceps- or vacuum-assisted delivery; in 2014, 26.5 per cent did. Women with previous C-sections saw an even steeper climb, with just 17 per cent experiencing injuries in 2004 and 26 per cent experiencing them in 2014.

Trauma to babies also increased but remained relatively rare: the study reported 4.5 injuries per 1,000 deliveries in 2004 and 6.8 injuries per 1,000 deliveries in 2014.

The most common injuries to mothers were third- and fourth-degree perineal tears; babies most commonly suffered brachial plexus injuries.

Increasing injury rates have prompted doctors and obstetrical malpractice lawyers in Canada and around the world to suggest changes. In Australia, some experts have called for a ban on forceps use, while some American hospitals already prohibit it. As C-section deliveries become increasingly common – a third of babies are now delivered by C-section – young doctors will have fewer and fewer chances to become comfortable with the practice. According to the National Post, a 2007 study found that only about half of American residency program graduates felt competent using forceps.

If your family has been affected by a birthing injury involving the use of forceps, contact the obstetrical malpractice lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today to find out how we can help. Our experienced team of personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers can explain your legal options and guide you on your path to compensation and recovery.


Image credit: Gilberto Santa Rosa/Wikimedia Commons

Toronto activists submit road safety recommendations to City Council

Advocates and car accident lawyers are fed up with the state of road safety in Canada’s largest city. In June, a coalition of concerned citizens submitted a report to City Hall containing 15 recommendations to mitigate traffic fatalities in Toronto. The decision to publish the unsolicited report, titled #BuildTheVisionTO, followed a particularly violent period on the city’s streets.

“For too long, our streets in Toronto have been measured using one priority: the movement of cars,” said Amanda O’Rourke, the executive director of 8 80 Cities, one of the groups that contributed to the report. “We must break free of this thinking. Our streets belong to all of us. They should be safe and active places that improve our quality of life, not where lives are taken away.”

As 2018 devolves into another year of elevated cyclist and pedestrian fatalities, the coalition hopes road safety will become a major point of concern in October’s municipal election. It’s recommendations range from “proposals to accelerate policies council has already approved to more controversial ideas like banning right turns on red lights and lowering the default speed limit for arterial and collector roads from 50 km/h to 40 km/h,” the Toronto Star reported.

The latter recommendations may be controversial, but they’re not unprecedented – both are supported by car accident lawyers and backed up by evidence-based arguments. Montreal and New York City each improved road safety by banning right-hand turns on red lights, and in 2012 a report from Toronto Public Health found that pedestrians struck by vehicles moving 30 km/h or slower had an excellent 95 per cent survival rate.

Other recommendations include streamlining the process to install traffic calming measures around the city; building sidewalks as part of routine upgrades on all streets; establishing a larger network of safe bike routes; and matching New York’s per capita Vision Zero funding.

“I think we have to be careful to make these decisions within the context of what is going to be most effective to keep people safe,” Mayor John Tory told reporters after #BuildTheVisionTO’s release. “I would rule nothing out from that entire list.”

The #BuildTheVisionTO coalition, which includes Walk Toronto, Friends and Families for Safe Streets, Cycle Toronto, and the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation in addition to 8 80 Cities, has identified issues with which car accident lawyers in Toronto have become grimly familiar. Their proposed solutions are also familiar, having delivered positive results in cities around the world. However, without the City of Toronto’s vocal and – more importantly – financial support, they aren’t likely to be effective.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle collision in Toronto, contact Will Davidson LLP today to speak with our team of knowledgeable car accident lawyers. We can help you understand your legal options and guide you on your path to recovery.

In Ontario, summertime is “trauma season”

Winter’s in Ontario are rough, but provincial medical workers know that summer is peak time for serious injuries. A May report from CBC News London confirmed what every catastrophic injury lawyer in Ontario knows: pleasant weather leads to an uptick in personal injury inquiries.

“We consider trauma season from May to September when more people are out on bicycles and in cars enjoying the weather,” Amy Makish, a trauma nurse practitioner at the London Health Science Centre, told the CBC. “We have a trauma registry that goes across Canada and we see what other centres are dealing with and the trends are the same.”

During the winter, motorists are keenly aware of the dangers they face and often drive more defensively. Inclement weather also tends to keep pedestrians indoors and cyclists off the roads. But when summer rolls around, Ontario’s streets and waterways spring to life, leading to a spike in injuries caused by motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, boating accidents, and car accidents.

“During trauma season, we get a lot of brain injuries, rib fractures, long bone fractures and it usually involves injuries to more than one part of the body,” Makish said.

So, how can summertime injuries be avoided? Doctors generally offer the same message as any catastrophic injury lawyer: take simple, common sense steps to protect yourself from grievous harm.

For car drivers, that means avoiding distraction and impairment; adhering to the rules of the road, especially the speed limit; and always wearing a seatbelt. The same goes for motorcyclists, who should also wear as much protective gear as possible.

As recent events in Toronto make clear, cyclists are at particular risk of injury during the summer months. Safety experts advise taking advantage of separated cycling infrastructure; ensuring bicycles are equipped with lights, bells, and reflectors; and always – always – wearing a helmet.

Similarly, boaters should never leave land without a life jacket and avoid boating while impaired at all costs.

Summertime in Ontario is all too short, so it’s natural that Ontarians are eager to get outside and enjoy the sun. By taking common sense precautions, you can ensure that your summer is as safe as it is fun.

If you or a member of your family has suffered a serious injury, contact Will Davidson LLP’s Oakville office today to arrange a consultation with an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer. Our team can help you understand your legal options, suggest proactive next steps, and guide you on your road to recovery.


Image credit: Josh Evnin/Wikimedia Commons

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