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Doctor Not Punished After Botched Forceps Delivery

Birth Injury

A Manchester, U.K. baby boy died from a botched forceps delivery and just minutes later the doctor advised the mother that she should “smoke 50 cigarettes a day” to have a smaller child. Jenson Barnett tragically suffered a fractured skull as Dr. Sharon Oates delivered him in a short-staffed medical ward.

Signs indicated that the 9lb 14oz baby boy was in distress, but the doctor delayed in ordering a Caesarean section for more than three hours. Consequently, the child experienced brain damage and died two days later. Dr. Oates had received a prior warning regarding the death of another baby under nearly identical circumstances.

A forceps delivery is a type of assisted vaginal birthing process. The healthcare provider applies the large spoon-like instrument to the baby’s head to help guide the infant out of the birth canal. This action is typically conducted during a contraction while the mother pushes. This type of delivery may be recommended if labor isn’t progressing or if the baby’s health requires an immediate delivery.

Mother considers botched forceps delivery lawsuit

In a subsequent hearing regarding the death of the infant, the previously noted cigarette comment was revealed. Dr. Oates later told the mother, “Sorry about your baby, we didn’t anticipate it being as big as it was — it was never coming out of that little bottom.”

While agreeing that Dr. Oates, a consultant with 30 years of experience, had made an “error of judgment,” the panel ruled that her behavior had not resulted in misconduct or led to the death of the baby. Instead, they determined that her comments had been “an attempt at humor” and permitted her to return to work without disciplinary action.

On August 26, the mother criticized the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service Panel, saying “I’m just absolutely angry. She has gotten away with everything. I believe she was responsible for Jenson’s death.”

“She has been in trouble in the past for something similar and yet she has got away scot-free,” the mother continued. “I definitely think Jenson would have survived if she had given me a C-section sooner. The fact she had a warning in the past and has gone back to practise, and then done something very similar means she hasn’t really learned anything and she shouldn’t be practising.”

Forceps appled with “great force” during delivery

The mother was a week overdue when she was admitted to the hospital to deliver her child on June 15, 2013. The next morning, Dr. Oates was shown tests warning of a problem with the infant’s heartbeat. However, the doctor who was caring for seven other patients after a colleague didn’t show up to work, thought the mother was making “good progress.”

Four hours later, when little Jenson’s heartbeat slowed even further, efforts were made for a vaginal delivery. Dr. Oates and her colleague failed using forceps to deliver the child before deciding to a Caesarean section at 2:30pm. The mother said the doctors applied “great force” with the forceps, noting “I was holding on to the metal handles. The bed shunted back. The bed shook really hard.”

The baby was born “floppy,” with the umbilical cord around his neck at 2:54pm. He passed away days later on June 18.

A post-mortem exam determined that he died from excessive internal bleeding, which was caused by brain damage from the forceps delivery. A 2014 investigation revealed he would have survived if the Caesarean section was performed at 11am.

The panel determined that Dr. Oates’ remarks to the mother were inappropriate, but that she had not intentionally meant to be offensive. It is currently unknown whether the parents will file a botched forceps delivery lawsuit.

  1. Daily Mail, Mother Whose Baby Died During a Botched Forceps Delivery was Told That She Should Have Smoked 50 Cigarettes a Day to Have a Smaller Child

  2. Mayo Clinic, Forceps Delivery