Vacuum Extraction and Forceps Injuries
How vacuum extractors can lead to serious, permanent injuries
Sometimes during a vaginal delivery, the baby needs a bit of help making its way into the world, and a vacuum extractor is a tool that helps to get the baby delivered safely. There are several factors that can create a difficult passage through the birth canal including the baby being in an unexpected position, a large head in proportion to the size of the mother’s pelvis or other conditions.
When labor goes on and on, both mother and baby can become tired, and it can begin to threaten the health of the baby. Doctors sometimes need to make the delivery move along more quickly, and that is when they consider the use of assisted devices like vacuum extractors and forceps.
What is vacuum extraction?
The Mayo Clinic describes vacuum extraction like this: “a health care provider applies the vacuum — a soft or rigid cup with a handle and a vacuum pump — to the baby’s head to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. This is typically done during a contraction while the mother pushes.”
Vacuum extraction may be done when:
- The mother is pushing but labor is not progressing
- The baby’s heartbeat suggests they may be having a problem
- The mother has a health condition
Forceps look like tongs with spoon-shaped ends. The doctor uses the forceps to pull the baby out while the mother pushes.
How could a birth injury occur with vacuum extraction?
The use of vacuum extraction is generally safe for the mother and the baby. It can cause bruising on the baby’s head, but those bruises usually heal quickly. The most serious complications from the use of vacuum extraction include:
- Retinal hemorrhage
- Brain injuries and trauma
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Shoulder dystocia
- Skull fracture
- Brain hemorrhage
These conditions can cause permanent injury, intellectual disability, and death.
Forceps and birth injuries
Forceps are sometimes necessary if the baby is in distress, or if the baby’s position is wrong for delivery. However, if they are used negligently, they can cause serious trauma to both mother and child. Some of the more severe forceps injuries include:
- Skull fractures
- Facial paralysis, such as Bell’s palsy
- Oxygen deprivation and brain damage
- Damage to the eyes
- Uterine tears
- Bladder tears
Liability for vacuum extraction birth injury
The FDA issued a warning regarding the use of vacuum extraction assisted delivery devices and expressed the need to use caution, and that those using the device be properly trained. Otherwise, the baby is at risk of a birth injury.
If proper care is not taken and the medical professional is not adequately trained in how to use a vacuum extractor and the mother or child sustains an injury, the injured party may have grounds for a medical negligence lawsuit.
These are many of the injuries our clients’ children have sustained
Learn more about your options
Crandall & Pera Law takes a special interest in birth injury cases. We take pride in helping families and we strive to provide comprehensive legal services for families dealing with birth injuries throughout Ohio and Kentucky. You can schedule your free consultation by calling 877-686-8879 or filling out our contact form.