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Chicago Vacuum Extractor Birth Injury Lawyer

Baby Injury by a Vacuum Extractor

Vacuum Extractor Birth InjuryWhen a doctor believes that use of a birthing tool is helpful during delivery, that doctor will likely make a decision after consultation with the mother. Both forceps and vacuum extraction are comparable in helping to extract the baby, but depending on the circumstances, the doctor may choose one over the other.

Many designs for vacuum extractors exist, but they are generally constructed of polyethylene, or steel and plastic. No matter what they’re made of, they all include the following components:

  • A handle to hold during extraction
  • A vacuum cup generally shaped like a mushroom
  • A guard inside the vacuum cup
  • A vacuum pump or a port to attach a vacuum hose

Vacuum extractors and forceps were once very commonplace, but they are used less and less these days. As a result, fewer doctors have the skills and practice needed to use these tools competently. Unfortunately, vacuum extractor mistakes sometimes happen during delivery, resulting in severe injury to the newborn baby.

Requirements to Avoid Vacuum Extraction Medical Malpractice

Because both vacuum extractors and forceps are used for essentially the same purpose, the choice of which to use depends on the medical professional and the particular circumstances he or she is confronted with. So prior to using a vacuum extractor during delivery, the doctor must ensure that certain requirements for a successful forceps delivery are met before proceeding:

  • Ruptured membranes
  • Established position of head, engaged in birth canal
  • Proper analgesia
  • Assessment of head vs. pelvis
  • Dilated and retracted cervix
  • Adequate facilities and support staff
  • Knowledgeable doctor

When a doctor or member of the medical staff fails to comply and causes injury to mother or baby, a lawsuit may be the best next step.

Informed Consent Required

Also, as with any other medical procedure, the doctor needs to get "informed consent" from the patient before proceeding. It is, however, difficult to fully discuss complicated procedures in a short window of time, especially in emergency circumstances. So it is often best for the OB/GYN to discuss the potential use of such medical instruments ahead of time. In general, informed consent for a procedure requires the following:

  • An explanation of why the procedure is necessary
  • A discussion of the benefits and the risks involved
  • A discussion of other alternative methods or treatments
  • A chance for the patient to ask questions

Under no circumstances should the decision to use a vacuum extractor be rushed or hurried. Even when time is short, a very careful decision must be made as serious injuries may result. When the doctor performs the procedure without first securing informed consent, medical malpractice may have occurred.

Reasons Not to Use Vacuum Extraction

Once the requirements have been met and the patient has given informed consent, it is still necessary to determine whether there are any indicators not to go forward with use of the vacuum extractor. Some of those indicators include:

  • Presentations of the fetus that would further complicate extraction such as face, brow, or breech
  • Suspected or known fetal susceptibility to bleeding or demineralizing bone disease
  • Inability to properly apply the device
  • Unknown fetal position that cannot be confirmed by ultrasound or physical exam
  • Suspected disproportionate relationship between baby's head and mother's pelvis
  • Fetus less than 36 weeks old
  • Failed prior use of forceps
  • Overlapping cranial bones
  • Abnormally large baby

The decision about whether to proceed is an important one. The improper use of vacuum extraction may be medical malpractice and result in serious injury or death.

Proper Vacuum Extraction Technique

Even in circumstances where all the proper requirements have been met and no indicators exist to suggest that an extractor should not be used, proper technique is essential, and includes:

  • Proper choice of cup design
  • Proper calculation of fetopelvic relationship between baby and mother
  • Proper technique, angle, and use of force
  • Proper positioning of fetal cranium when suction applied

When a doctor fails to follow the correct vacuum extraction technique and injury or death results, the family should contact a skilled birth injury attorney to discuss their options.

Birth Injuries from Negligent Vacuum Assisted Delivery

The delivery of a child is rarely perfect. Even in the most normal of circumstances, a "standard" vaginal delivery has potential for great harm and long-term injury both to the fetus and to the mother. But the use of medical devices such as forceps and vacuum extractors adds an extra level to the potential dangers inherent in the delivery process.

When suction is applied to the tender scalp of a baby, a problems may result if this is not done delicately and with precision. Some of the birth injuries that may result include:

  • Scalp wounds: By the very nature of suction applied to the head, cone-shaped swelling can occur. This is referred to as a chignon. In addition, cuts, bruising, lacerations, and discoloration can occur as well.
  • Newborn jaundice: When a vacuum extractor is used, bruising is likely to occur to the scalp, which is caused by blood leaking out of broken blood vessels. When this blood breaks down, it produces extra bilirubin. The yellowish coloration of the skin is a result of this and although a common condition, must be treated properly to avoid serious injury to the baby.
  • Hematoma: The use of suction may create a hematoma, which refers to blood formation under the skin. Blood seeps out of the arteries or veins and into the tissues around them.
    • A cephalohematoma is confined to a specific space and usually doesn't need further treatment.
    • A subgaleal hematomais more serious and is considered by many to be the most serious potential complication of vacuum extraction. It occurs when the suction extractor pulls the baby's scalp and the tissue beneath it away from the baby's skull. Blood then collects in this large space and creates a potentially life-threatening situation.
  • Retinal hemorrhage: Bleeding at the back of the baby's eyes; this may be due to pressure exerted on the baby’s head.
  • Intracranial hemorrhage: Bleeding in the baby's skull that may occur due to excess suction and may lead to a loss of movement, speech, and memory.

Free Information About Vacuum Extractor Injury Lawsuits in Chicago

Every delivery, whether vaginal or Cesarean, carries risks. What is important is how the doctor, hospital, and medical staff evaluate those risks and whether or not they act intelligently, promptly, and properly. In circumstances where you believe that your medical providers have failed and this failure has resulted in injury, we can help. A lawsuit can be filed to recover money damages from those responsible. No lawyer fees are ever charged unless we are successful on your behalf.

For more than 25 years, our experienced legal team has helped families through difficult times and recovered millions of dollars in the process. For free information 24 hours a day, contact the Chicago birth injury lawyers at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at (800) 996-4824.

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