Improper Use of a Vacuum Extractor During Delivery
When labor is not progressing as it should, or when emergency delivery is necessary, doctors turn to life-saving tools to rescue both mother and baby. When used correctly, these tools - like the vacuum extractor - can be invaluable. But when a doctor is negligent in the use of these delivery tools, lifelong injuries can occur. While only about 3 percent of babies are delivered using forceps or vacuum extraction, the risks are significant.
What is a vacuum extractor?
Like forceps, vacuum extractors work to guide a baby out of the birth canal. A soft cup is placed against the back of the baby's head while it is in the birth canal. When attached to a vacuum pump, this cup can help to pull the baby's body in the right direction. Most often used during contractions, the mother is asked to push as the doctor uses the vacuum extractor.
When is a vacuum extractor used?
The tool is used in a variety of dangerous circumstances. After several hours of a mother pushing, doctors may intervene and insist upon the use of a vacuum extractor. Depending on a mother's health history, she may be limited in the time she is physically able to push. Many times, the mother is exhausted and unable to keep up the effort. When the baby's heartbeat indicates a problem, a quick delivery is sometimes necessary - another common reason for vacuum extractions.
What birth injuries can occur from the use of a vacuum extractor?
When doctors place the vacuum extractor too early in the delivery process, the baby is often still too high in the uterus. When the infant is pulled down by the force of the vacuum, shoulder dystocia can occur. This very serious complication can occur when one or both shoulders are trapped behind the pubic bone. Dystocia happens most frequently when the child is too large to fit through the canal or is improperly positioned. It can be a fatal complication.
Other vacuum extraction injuries can include:
- Skull fracture
- Cerebral palsy
- Cuts and bruises to the scalp
- Erb's palsy
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Facial nerve palsy
- Brain bleeding
- Permanent neurological damage
What are the symptoms of vacuum extraction injuries, and what can they lead to?
Symptoms vary widely depending on the injury. If injuries relate to the brachial plexus, for example, the baby can suffer arm paralysis, weakness or a claw-like hand. Symptoms related to a skull fracture or brain bleeding might look very different by comparison. Most commonly, birth extraction injury symptoms are lethargy and seizures, which often happen within a few hours of delivery.
New Mexico Birth Injury Lawyers
If you believe your child’s birth injury was caused by a medical mistake, contact our attorneys to discuss your situation. You do not owe us any legal fees unless we settle or win your case. Set up a free, no obligation, consultation today at 877-544-5323.
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