Vacuum Extraction Errors Leading to Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Prolonged or stalled labor or signs of fetal distress during childbirth may cause a doctor to use assistive devices. One of these devices is a vacuum extractor, which consists of a cup attached to the head of the baby and a vacuum pump that creates suction. A doctor typically uses a vacuum extractor after the cervix has dilated, allowing the baby to enter the birth canal. While the mother pushes the baby through the birth canal, the doctor can use the device to pull the baby through. When the head becomes visible, the doctor should remove the device.
Among other benefits, vacuum extraction can allow a mother to avoid a C-section and related complications. It also can reduce the risk of complications during a difficult vaginal birth by shortening the delivery process. However, vacuum extraction poses a greater risk than a natural childbirth in ordinary circumstances and should not be used unless it is needed. There are also certain situations in which a doctor should refrain from using vacuum extraction.
The doctor cannot locate the head, or the head is far up the birth canal
Complications Caused by Vacuum Extraction
If a doctor does not competently perform vacuum extraction, both the mother and the baby may suffer serious harm. Failing to promptly address complications or injuries caused by the process can lead to permanent disabilities in some cases. Signs of these injuries usually appear soon after childbirth. Since the vacuum extractor unnaturally stretches the birth canal, a mother may suffer vaginal tears that can pose a risk of infections. A mother also may suffer from anemia and blood clots, while a baby may show signs of bleeding, bruising, or swelling around their head. This may indicate that the suction cup in the vacuum extractor has pulled at the tissues in their head and damaged the veins.
Over time, vacuum extraction injuries may cause a mother to suffer from chronic pelvic pain, as well as problems with bladder, bowel, and sexual functions. A child may develop serious or even life-threatening conditions affecting their head and nerves, including:
After using a vacuum extractor or another assistive device, a doctor should check the mother and the baby for resulting injuries. Often, these complications can be resolved completely if they are identified and treated promptly. If a mother sustains serious tears to her vagina, she may need stitches, which will dissolve automatically. Sometimes a surgeon conducts an episiotomy to facilitate delivery, which involves cutting into the perineum to enlarge the vagina. This also will require stitches after the procedure. A doctor may provide a catheter to a mother who suffers from incontinence after childbirth.
Meanwhile, a doctor should take extra care to monitor a child with a bruised head after vacuum extraction. This will allow them to catch and treat complications as soon as they arise, preventing or mitigating long-term effects.
Medical Malpractice Claims Based on Vacuum Extraction Errors
Some vacuum extraction errors involve improperly using the device, while others involve delayed or improper treatment of vacuum extraction complications. Still other errors may involve a decision to use a vacuum extractor when this device should not have been used. In any of these situations, a family can pursue compensation from any health care provider that was at fault. They may be able to recover reimbursement for past, present, and future medical costs, as well as pain and suffering.
Like other medical malpractice cases, claims based on vacuum extraction errors usually hinge on expert testimony. Since most ordinary people do not understand the nuances of the medical profession, an expert who is familiar with the defendant’s field must explain how the defendant deviated from the appropriate professional practices. Expert witnesses also can describe the effects of malpractice on the mother and the child, maximizing a compensation award. Handling expert testimony and other distinctive features of a medical malpractice case can be challenging without the assistance of an attorney.
Parents should set up free consultations with birth injury lawyers in their area as soon as possible. This can help them decide whether they should pursue a claim and find out about the compensation that they might recover.