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Vacuum Extraction Injury

Birth Injuries Caused by Vacuum Extraction? Receive Expert Advice from a Birth Injury Lawyer in Cook County.

The length of time it takes a woman to deliver a baby varies from one expectant mother to the next. Normal births usually take a few hours and present no complications, but other deliveries can be especially difficult. Sometimes the process stops completely in mid-delivery – the baby is close but is not quite out. This is when your obstetrician may review delivery options and choose to use a vacuum extractor device. But timing is critical – the baby must be far enough through the birth canal to avoid stress. Unfortunately, trusted medical professionals can misinterpret birthing conditions or overlook other clear dangers of vacuum extraction. When a vacuum extraction injury occurs, it may be wise to consult a birth injury lawyer in Cook County.

The Risks Associated with Vacuum Extraction

If proper care is not taken during vacuum extraction, a baby can suffer bruises, skin abrasions, head trauma, brain damage, nerve damage and hematoma (tearing of blood vessels inside the head, which can cause bleeding into the brain).

The injuries to a newborn and the symptoms they present can vary. If the harm is to the brachial plexus nerves (between the neck and shoulder), the child’s symptoms may be arm weakness, paralysis or a claw-like hand and may not be fully known for months. But a hematoma could suggest a skull fracture in addition to bleeding into the brain, which could cause catastrophic – and possibly life-threatening – injuries that will be detected in the baby’s APGAR test (Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, Respiration) immediately after it’s born.

Because the vacuum cup is placed on the back of the baby’s head, history has shown that most injuries are head or brain related. The two most common symptoms include lethargy and seizures. These may occur hours or weeks after the birth, depending on the extent of the damage.

Vacuum Extraction Injuries are Preventable

These devices are useful under the right circumstances and with proper, careful use. But if employed incorrectly or unnecessarily, they can be dangerous and cause a variety of birth traumas. To underscore this risk, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has raised its concerns.

Vacuum extraction injuries are preventable, and legally, foreseeable, which is important in a medical malpractice case. Sometimes a mother can request the doctor use forceps instead of an extractor. Other times, a well-informed mother will ask the doctor what stage the baby is at before she agrees with the doctor’s desire to use a vacuum extractor.

There are some conditions in which vacuum extraction is strongly discouraged. Some of them involve:

  • A baby who is less than 34 weeks;
  • The baby is too large or the mother’s pelvis is too small for normal delivery;
  • The baby’s head is too far from the vaginal opening;
  • The baby first needs to be rotated or repositioned to be delivered; and
  • The mother is not fully dilated.

In all the above instances, Cesarean section may be the safer choice. An experienced delivery team already should anticipate this possibility.

When Negligent Vacuum Extractions Injure a Baby

Many vacuum extraction injuries are preventable. But depending on the severity of the injury, long-term prognosis could suggest a degree of permanent damage, or a long and slow recovery. Some children may not fully recover at all, depending on the injuries, which can range from skeletal and muscle damage or weakness to irreversible brain damage.

Doctors and other medical professionals involved in the vacuum extraction process may be guilty of malpractice if they applied too much force during attachment or detachment of the suction cup, exposed the child to too much suction pressure, used suction for an unusually long period, used the vacuum extractor too soon in the delivery process or too long, or overlooked other risk factors that made this procedure dangerous and inadvisable. A birth injury lawyer in Cook County can advise you of your options. Contact us today for more information: 1-800-NOW-HURT.