Vacuum-Assisted Birth Injury
Were you or your unborn baby the victim of medical malpractice that led to a birth injury? Did the obstetrician make a mistake that led to a vacuum extraction delivery mistake?
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers handle medical negligence cases and can serve as your legal advocates.
Contact our birth injury attorneys in Chicago, Illinois today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Doctors are often confronted with difficult decisions and must use the most effective means of treatment available, considering the unique circumstances of all mothers and babies. Currently, many deliveries are performed when the physicians use a vacuum extractor, a medical instrument that grips the baby's head.
The soft cup-shaped vacuum extraction device is a helpful tool that guides the baby through the birth canal using a vacuum pump for suction. These medical devices have suction cups attached to the baby's head to draw them through the birth canal during the mother's contraction.
The Need for Vacuum-Assisted Delivery
Healthcare professionals, doctors, and obstetricians will often consider vacuum extraction during labor to encourage delivery. In addition, vacuum-assisted delivery is often considered when vaginal delivery is difficult or labor is prolonged as a last resort before cesarean section.
However, vacuum-assisted delivery increases the risk of birth injuries for both mother and baby, even when the baby is in an awkward position in the birth canal, or the mother's pelvis puts pressure on the child's head.
Therefore, improper use of vacuum equipment or failure to monitor the newborn baby for complications can cause severe injuries and constitutes medical malpractice.
Medical professionals often recommend a cesarean delivery (C-section) when the mother is not fully dilated, or the baby requires rotation or repositioning to travel through the birth canal, and vacuum extraction is not an option.
Unfortunately, many times, the doctor cannot identify the baby's position for safe vacuuming-assisted delivery.
Not knowing the baby's position when the mother has exhausted could lead to severe complications, including a uterine rupture, placental abruption, or cephalopelvic disproportion problem.
Vacuum Extraction: What You Should Know
Many doctors now use vacuum extractors in place of forceps to assist in vaginal delivery to avoid severe health risks and birth injuries. Initially, medical professionals would use a metal-cup vacuum extractor. However, today, soft-cup vacuum devices are significantly easier to use and lead to fewer neonatal scalp injuries.
Unfortunately, the soft cup vacuum extractor tends to detach more frequently, leading to neonatal injury. Therefore, the doctor should only use a soft-cup vacuum extractor when necessary, when the second stage of labor fails to progress, or a non-reassuring fetal heart trace is identified.
Typically, complications are minimized when the treating obstetrician recognizes the contraindications of using vacuum extraction. Instrumental delivery, using a vacuum extractor or forceps, is usually attempted when a spontaneous vaginal delivery is impossible or not recommended.
Usually, the medical team has two options: an electrical suction device or a manual vacuum pump attached to a soft cup. Some devices have built-in vacuum-release valves allowing suction to be controlled accurately and attained rapidly.
Manufacturers offer two vacuum extractor options: reusable and disposable. Both options provide operational simplicity and maneuverability, avoiding the increased risk of using forceps.
A soft cup vacuum extractor is available in different shapes, including funnel, bell, and mushroom that offers significant advantages over metal cups. For decades, vacuum extractors were the instrument of choice in Europe.
However, only recently have medical professionals in America begun using vacuum extraction over forceps use for numerous reasons, including:
- It's easier to learn what to do
- They provide quicker delivery
- There is less maternal genital trauma
- There is significantly less maternal discomfort and pain
- There are fewer neonatal craniofacial injuries
- The process requires less anesthesia
However, statistically, there is a higher incidence rate of successful vaginal deliveries when using forceps and fewer neonatal injuries, including cephalohematoma, transient lateral rectus palsy, and retinal hemorrhage.
Vacuum Extraction Delivery Birth Injuries
Sometimes, the labor process does not progress normally, leading to a fetus in distress. In these cases, the doctor must perform fetal heart rate monitoring to avoid injuries. Many vacuum extraction delivery injuries result from human error, improper use of vacuum extraction, or inadequate vacuum-assisted training.
The delivery team is required to disclose the fetus's health status and any maternal medical conditions suggesting the need to use a vacuum extractor. In addition, the law requires the doctor to discuss all available options when using a vacuum extractor and all other treatment options, including forceps.
During their discussions, they must talk about the contributing risks for allowing the delivery to proceed without assistance. For example, in some cases, not acting could be more dangerous to the health and welfare of the mother and baby than the risks of using vacuum extraction or forceps.
Some swelling or hemorrhaging (excessive bleeding) is expected due to the exertion of force on the child's head. Excessive bleeding is often the result of both suction and pressure from the mother's cervix during birth. However, more severe birth injuries can result from the improper use of a vacuum extractor.
Sometimes, labor does not progress normally, leading to fetal distress seen on a fetal heart rate monitor or by evaluating the fetal serum's pH level. Other times, the mother's heart condition (aortic valve stenosis) limits the physical exertion she needs to deliver her baby safely.
In these cases, the doctor may ask for informed consent to use forceps or vacuum extractors to avoid birth injuries associated with complicated deliveries. Other contributing factors to consider in a vacuum extraction method include maternal exhaustion, a prolonged pushing phase (second stage of labor), or some debilitating medical condition.
Birth injuries caused by the doctor's negligence and improper use of vacuum extractors, and improper forceps delivery on the fetal head include the following.
- Fetal stroke
- Skull fractures
- Bleeding behind the retinas with possible vision impairment
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord damage
- Cerebral palsy
- Erb's palsy
- Brain hemorrhages
- Developmental delays
- Subgaleal hematomas
- Facial and head injuries
- Facial paralysis
- Shoulder dystocia
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Retinal hemorrhages
- Permanent brain damage
- Wrongful death
The decision to perform a vacuum delivery and the failure to assess and diagnose any complications or conditions properly after birth may influence the type and severity of injuries sustained.
Unfortunately, many medical professionals choose to move the delivery forward using vacuums and forceps when a C-section may provide a better prognosis.
The majority of correctly performed vacuum extractions result in minor injuries that resolve themselves with proper monitoring to ensure the child's bilirubin levels and red blood cell count remain normal.
More severe injuries such as fractures are indicators that the physician performing the procedure may have caused the injuries through improper use of vacuum extraction.
Proving Medical Malpractice in a Vacuum Delivery Case
To pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit, the attorney must prove that the attending doctor failed to do what any other reasonable physician would have done under identical circumstances.
Proving deviation from the standard of care is the most challenging aspect of a malpractice case. Because of that, you should be represented by a birth injury lawyer who has prior success with similar cases.
Our personal injury attorneys handle medical negligence cases representing birth injury victims harmed when the doctor negligently delivered the baby.
Our birth injury lawyers understand the emotional pain and financial burden that accompanies any injury to an infant during delivery involving the improper use of a vacuum extractor.
Birth injury victims and their families are entitled to receive financial recovery for all of their damages when the infant suffered a birth injury caused by their doctor's negligent use of forceps and vacuum extractors.
An experienced attorney working on behalf of the family can ensure they can recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, future lost earnings, pain, suffering, and mental anguish.
Hiring a Vacuum Extraction Injury Attorney for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Has your child suffered an injury due to a vacuum extraction error? Did the doctor's negligence from the improper use of vacuum extraction harm your baby's head, shoulders, or spinal cord?
The Chicago, IL childbirth injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC serve clients who need assistance to ensure they receive monetary recovery for their child's injury.
Our personal injury law firm has access to multiple experts in the medical field who can examine your case and provide immediate legal advice. These medical experts can provide compelling testimony to support your claim and accurately determine the value of your birth injury lawsuit.
Our birth injury lawyers are located throughout Illinois and have handled numerous childbirth injury cases nationwide. If our medical malpractice trial lawyers cannot collect the compensation that you are entitled to under the law, there will be no charge for our services.
Call our law office today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to schedule a free initial consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our super lawyers remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
- American Family Physician – Vacuum Extractor for Vaginal Delivery
- National Institute of Health – Vacuum Extraction
- UTSW Medical Center – Forcep and Vacuum Deliveries
Many medical malpractice cases have already been resolved through million-dollar settlements to ensure families have sufficient financial compensation for providing all the treatment and care their child requires.