Every pregnant woman is unique, and no two deliveries are exactly alike. Childbirth is a completely natural phenomenon, but for various reasons labor and delivery may not proceed at the expected pace for some women. When the second stage of labor, during which the mother is pushing the baby through the birth canal, is going more slowly than expected, medical interventions can occur if certain safety criteria are met, including vacuum extractions and forceps deliveries. If all safety prerequisites are met, a doctor or midwife may at some point decide that an intervention is in order, and then decide if a vacuum or forceps delivery is medically indicated and appropriate. Unfortunately, not all doctors or midwives know the safety rules for when to use forceps or vacuum extractors. In addition, many have limited experience in using them which can create a danger for your baby. Before either forceps or a vacuum extractor can be used, the obstetrician or midwife must obtain appropriate informed consent form the patient.
If your child was delivered with the assistance of a vacuum extractor or forceps, and mother or baby suffered harm, our Phoenix birth injury lawyers are here to help. If malpractice was involved, you may be entitled to a significant amount of financial compensation for medical treatment, ongoing care, and much more.
Contact Cullan & Cullan today at (602) 900-9483 for a free consultation and find out what your case may be worth.
Why Forceps and Vacuum Extraction Interventions Are Performed
An intervention may be deemed necessary in the following situations:
- The mother has been pushing, but labor isn’t progressing
- Changes in the baby’s heartbeat indicate a possible problem and need to expedite delivery
- The mother has a health condition that could be exacerbated by an excessive amount of time pushing, for example heart disease or high blood pressure
- The mother has begun to hemorrhage and delivery is imminent
For either forceps or a vacuum extractor to be used, the woman’s cervix must be fully dilated, safety criteria must be met, and no contraindications must be present.
Birth Trauma Caused by Forceps Delivery
Forcep injuries can occur in the hands of a doctor or midwife who is relatively unskilled or inexperienced. The blades must be placed precisely, and the amount of traction, applied as the mother pushes, must be carefully measured. Misplaced blades or pulling too hard or at the wrong time can cause severe injury.
Injuries associated with forceps deliveries include:
- Facial injuries due to the pressure of the forceps
- Facial palsy (weakness in the muscles of the face)
- Cranial nerve damage
- Fracture of the clavicle
- Bleeding in the brain
- Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Ischemic brain injury
- Cerebral palsy
- Skull fracture
- Eye trauma
- Horner’s syndrome
Vacuum Extraction Injuries
The vacuum extractor has become more popular than forceps in recent years, although there is growing evidence that it may be the more dangerous of the two methods. It should never be used without a compelling reason and valid informed consent. Also, vacuum extraction should not be used if the baby’s head is too large for the mother’s pelvis, if the baby’s head is too far up in the birth canal, or if the baby requires repositioning.
When a vacuum extractor is not used properly, serious injuries may occur, including:
- Skull fractures
- Retinal hemorrhage
- Subgaleal hemorrhage (ruptured vein bleeding into the space between the scalp and skull)
- Nerve damage
- Brachial plexus injuries
- Ischemic brain injury
- Cerebral palsy
- Brain hemorrhage
- HIE – Hypoxic Ischemic encephalopathy
Was My Baby’s Injury Caused by Medical Malpractice?
If your baby suffered an injury at birth, and forceps or vacuum extraction were used, you may wonder if you have a case for medical malpractice. If you have any question as to whether your child was injured during labor and delivery you should contact an attorney to have your case investigated. The hospitals and doctors will not tell you the cause of your baby’s injuries. You should have an attorney investigate on your child’s behalf. Not every case or injury involves medical malpractice - but far too many cases do. You have the right to investigate what happened and discover the truth – whatever that might be.
Ask a Phoenix Birth Injury Lawyer
If you suspect that your child’s injuries were caused by malpractice, make an appointment for a free case review by one of the doctor/attorneys at our Phoenix law firm. We will make a careful analysis of your child’s medical records, identify where and how the doctor, midwife, or hospital may have deviated from the expected standard of care, and advise you as how to proceed in obtaining a monetary recovery that will help you provide for your child through his or her lifetime.
To get started, call (602) 900-9483. We are ready to listen to your story and offer our guidance.