Who May Be Liable for a Child’s Forceps and Vacuum Extractor Injuries?

Newborn BabyWhen mothers need assistance giving birth, medical professionals may use certain tools that can help the labor. The assistive devices that can be used are either forceps or vacuum extractors, which come along with risks that mothers must be informed about before use. Aside from particular birth complications or in cases of prolonged labor, assisted delivery can also occur when:

  • the baby is stuck and not progressing further through the birth canal
  • the mother can no longer push
  • the baby is not getting enough oxygen, so they need to be delivered faster
  • the contractions of the mother’s uterus aren’t strong enough to push the baby out
  • the mother has health concerns that make it difficult or ill-advised to push

According to statistics, 0.5% of births in 2018 were delivered with the use of forceps, while 2.5% used vacuum extractors. The numbers aren’t too different from 2017, when the use of forceps remained the same. Meanwhile, the birth percentage with vacuum extraction was 0.1% higher.

Forceps and Vacuum Extractors

Doctors and medical professionals follow guidelines when it comes to using assistive devices. There are the right methods and time to consider using these.

Although the forceps may resemble the usual kitchen tongs, they are specifically made for instrument-assisted deliveries. The “arms” of the forceps will be placed on the sides of the baby’s head. The doctor will use the forceps to guide the baby out during a contraction and while the mother pushes.

On the other hand, the vacuum extractor makes use of a soft cup that has suction. It is placed on the back of the baby’s head on a specific part that medical professionals know, which reduces the risks of brain bleeds. The pressure and suction must never be excessive; otherwise, the risk of harm will be higher.

Possible Injuries and Mistakes

The doctors using the delivery instruments must be experienced, but mistakes can occur when certain guidelines are not followed. There are even more risks if the medical professional does not have the expertise.

  • pulling or twisting the baby excessively
  • excessive force with the forceps or excessive vacuum suction
  • using the devices at the wrong stage of delivery
  • using the vacuum for more than 20 minutes, which is already too long
  • attempting to use the forceps for the fourth time or beyond, as there should only be three attempts
  • wrong placement with the forceps “arms” or vacuum suction cup

The duration, force, and placement of the assistive devices are of extreme importance. Any small mistake can have significant repercussions and cause injuries to the baby or the mother, or both.

The FDA 1998 Advisory Regarding Assisted Deliveries

Back in 1998, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a public health advisory regarding the use of vacuum extractors for assisted deliveries. They received reports of deaths and serious injuries in the previous years, which prompted them to release an advisory. They acknowledge that complications could have been avoided. So, the purpose of their advisory is to provide the necessary guidance that can minimize risks.

“While no instrumented delivery is risk-free, the FDA is concerned that some health care professionals who use vacuum assisted delivery devices, or those who care for these infants following delivery, may not be aware that the device may produce life-threatening complications.”

Medical professionals must always keep the mother educated about the potential risks that come along with the use of vacuum extractors, and even forceps as well. They should be responsible for monitoring the condition of the mother and the baby and must be concerned about

“The FDA is also concerned that if health care professionals responsible for the care of neonates are not alerted when a vacuum-assisted delivery device has been used on a particular infant, they may not adequately monitor for the signs and symptoms of device-related injuries.”

Various Signs and Indications of Injuries

The signs of forceps and vacuum extractor improper use can occur immediately or long after birth. Be wary when the child shows any symptoms that are causes for concern.

  • facial bone distortions or weakness in the facial muscles, or both
  • minor facial injuries
  • skull fracture
  • brain swelling or damage (like cephalohematoma), or both
  • brain bleeds and hemorrhages (such as intraventricular or cerebral hemorrhage)
  • seizures

CT scans, fetal monitoring, and MRIs can help doctors check and verify whether there are existing injuries to address as soon as possible. Adequate treatment must be done immediately so that the child can recover. In any case, birth injuries are serious, and parents must do the proper legal actions in case of medical malpractice.

For Medical Malpractice and Birth Injury Cases, Contact The Clark Law Office.

Birth injury cases need to be handled by expert lawyers who are knowledgeable enough to handle the case with ease and professionalism. If you have a possible medical malpractice or birth injury case relating to forceps and vacuum extractor misuse, contact The Clark Law Office. You can be sure that you’ll get the financial compensation and trial result that you deserve with help from trusted and experienced Michigan attorneys.

Medical malpractice is a serious matter, so get a free initial consultation now.


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