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Improper Use of Vacuum Extraction During Delivery

improper use of vacuum extraction

A vacuum extractor is a medical instrument that grips the fetal head with a cup-shaped extension to help the passage of the baby through the birth canal. Vacuum extractors are sometimes used during labor to encourage delivery but are known to increase the risk of birth injuries for mother and baby. When a mother or baby is injured as a result of improper use of vacuum extraction a birth injury lawsuit may be an option for the plaintiff to recover damages.

Because of the risks associated with them, vacuum extractors should only be used in extreme situations and generally involve one or more of the following conditions:

  • Labor is not progressing normally
  • Fetus is under stress as shown on a fetal heart rate monitor and/or pH of fetal serum
  • The mother has a heart condition called aortic valve stenosis that limits the amount of physical exertion she can safely do

Vacuum extractors and informed consent

Vacuum extractors are used in complicated deliveries and are associated with increased risk of birth injuries to newborns and mothers. Before using a vacuum extractor, the doctor should seek informed consent from the mother. The physician must disclose the health status of the fetus and any maternal medical conditions that suggest the need to use a vacuum extractor. He or she must discuss the option to use a vacuum extractor and any other treatment options such as forceps along with all risks associated with these treatments. The risks for not acting at all must also be explained. The information must be provided in simple terms that the patient can understand and must be comprehensive enough that the patient is able to make an “informed” choice about whether to go ahead with vacuum extraction.

Improper use of vacuum extraction may have occurred if it was used under the following circumstances:

  • Doctor is not experienced at vacuum delivery method
  • Fetus is less than 36 weeks of age
  • The position of the fetus is unknown
  • The fetus is too large or the mother’s pelvis is too small for vaginal delivery
  • There is fetal skull deformity or edema
  • Fetus has bone density problem or bleeding disorder
  • Attempt at forceps delivery has been unsuccessful

Vacuum extraction birth injuries to babies

Infant birth injuries associated with vacuum extraction are:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Brain damage
  • Injuries to face, head or scalp
  • Facial palsy
  • Subgaleal hemorrhage
  • Eye trauma
  • Neck fracture
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Death

Vacuum extraction birth injuries to mothers

Maternal birth injuries associated with vacuum extraction:

  • Blood loss/anemia
  • Bladder issues
  • Short term or long-term urinary and/or fecal incontinence
  • Uterine rupture with risk of future infertility
  • Injured perineum that may cause scarring, pain, sexual problems, infection and the need for surgical repairs
  • Weakening or other damage to musculature of urogenital region that may cause pelvic organ prolapse and the need for treatment such as sling surgeries that carry a high failure rate

If you, a loved one or your infant was seriously injured because of the improper use of vacuum extraction during delivery including failure to provide informed consent, you may be entitled to a monetary settlement. In successful cases the plaintiff may recover for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, lost wages, medical expenses and more.

The Seattle personal injury attorneys at Morrow Kidman Tinker Macey-Cushman, PLLC have years of experience representing families harmed by medical malpractice and other types of negligence. We seek justice for patients who have been harmed by preventable accidents and medical errors including birth injuries, hospital-acquired infections, diagnostic errors, prescription drug injuries and wrongful death in Seattle and across Washington State. There are no fees or expenses to file a personal injury case as we only receive payment if we recover damages on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims come with a Statute of Limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time frame of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate, experienced attorneys.