Forceps and Vacuum Extractors Injury Lawyers

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One in 664 babies delivered by way of forceps suffers from a brain injury and one in 860 infants experiences a brain injury after delivery by way of vacuum extraction. Forceps have been defined as “a set of metal tong-like structures used to help pull a baby out of the vagina once the baby has descended enough.” A vacuum extractor (ventouse) is “a device to assist delivery consisting of a metal traction cup that is attached to the fetus’ head; negative pressure is applied and traction is made on a chain passed through the suction tube.”

These tools can be helpful during difficult labors when a baby is breeched, stuck in the birth canal or if the labor is taking too long. While forceps and vacuum extractors are generally deemed safe, doctors can use these tools in a negligent manner, and when this happens, significant damage can result.

Injuries that Can Occur

When forceps are used inappropriately they can cause brain damage, bruising, indentation, blood loss (hypovolemic shock) and Cephalohematoma (bleeding between a bone and its covering). Vacuum extractors when used inappropriately can cause bruising, blood clots, lacerations and Caput Succedaneum (swelling of the scalp). Other injuries that can occur include Cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, facial nerve damage, facial scarring, skull fractures, retinal hemorrhages, jaundice, rectal injuries, nerve damage and shoulder dystocia (or brachial plexus palsy).

Risks & Protocol That Should be Followed

The U.S. National Library of Medicine- National Institutes of Health advises that, “Selection of the appropriate instrument depends on both the clinical situation and the operator’s level of comfort and experience with the specific instrument. Factors that need to be considered include the availability of the instrument in question, the degree of maternal analgesia, and an appreciation of the risks and benefits of each of the individual instruments.”

It is important that forceps tongs be placed correctly. If they are applied unevenly, the head can be compressed and internal bleeding can result. Likewise, when the suction cup of a vacuum extractor is not placed correctly, severe injuries can result. It is recommended that “there should be no twisting of the head or the neck, no excessive pulling, and no pulling that lasts longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Also, if a vacuum extractor pops off three times during use, a physician should move on to a C-section.”

The FDA released a Public Health Advisory on vacuum delivery devices, “This is to advise you that vacuum assisted devices may cause serious or fatal complications…While no instrumented delivery is risk free, we are 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.”

Forceps and vacuum extractors should only be used when the bladder is empty, the cervix is fully dilated, when the mother is on her back with her legs in supported stirrups, when local anesthetic has been administered and when the forceps have been inserted one at a time and locked into position.

When can another party be held responsible?

When it comes to vacuum extractors and forceps, there are essentially three reasons why you could hold someone negligent:

  • The doctor did not use forceps or a vacuum extractor when it was necessary
  • The doctor improperly or unnecessarily used forceps or a vacuum extractor
  • The manufacturer of the defective equipment was negligent in allowing the tools on the market

When a doctor or nurse fails to take reasonable care- either through negligence or oversight- they can be held liable. If your baby has sustained injuries after a forceps or vacuum extractor delivery, you should contact Zinda Law Group immediately to secure the legal assistance from a Personal Injury Attorney you need!