Forceps and vacuum extractors can be life-saving tools, but when improperly used, they can cause harm to a newborn. If your baby is the victim of a birth injury, our birth injury lawyers can help.
Giving birth is arguably one of the most intense things that a woman will ever do, and it can be even more so when a birth does not go as planned. Even when a pregnancy is healthy and appears to be on track, complications during birth such as a breech position of an infant may demand intensive medical care. In order to remove the infant from the birth canal, an obstetrician may resort to using forceps or vacuum extractors. While these tools can be life-saving, the use of this medical equipment is not without risks, and sometimes an infant is harmed in the process. If your baby is the victim of a birth injury that was suffered as a result of the improper use of forceps or a vacuum extractor, our Ontario birth injury lawyers can help. Reach us today for your free, no obligation consultation.
What are Forceps and Vacuum Extractors?
When childbirth is not progressing as is intended and necessary for the safe delivery of the baby, forceps or vacuum extractors may be used, as explained by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital of the University of Michigan. Consider how these two tools are used:
- Forceps delivery. Forceps refer to a medical device that closely resembles salad-serving tongs or spoons. When the mother is in distress and the baby’s head is still deep in the birth canal, forceps may be used to turn or pull the baby out, typically by placing the forceps gently around the baby’s head.
- Vacuum extraction delivery. Instead of forceps, some doctors will choose to use a vacuum extractor device to aid in delivery. This device features a suction cup that is placed over the baby’s head and uses a vacuum feature to hold the baby’s head in place and prevent it from moving as the mother experiences contractions, and to gently assist the mother in pushing the baby through the birth canal.
The Risks of Vacuum Extractors and Forceps
Again, there is no doubt that, when properly used and when medically necessary, vacuum extractors and forceps can be important tools in the process of delivering a baby. But there are also risks associated with these tools, even when used correctly. Some of the risks associated with vacuum extractors and forceps include:
- Bruising and swelling on the infant’s head/scalp (cephalohematoma);
- Tears of the mother’s vagina, rectum, or perineum;
- Bleeding within the skull of the infant (intracranial hemorrhage);
- Bruising or swelling of the baby’s face;
- Retinal hemorrhage of the baby (bleeding in the blood vessels of the retina);
- Cervical spinal cord injury (a serious complication of forceps rotations of 90 degrees or greater);
- Facial paralysis;
- Skull fracture;
- Neurological deficits; and
- Increase risk of cesarean section – vacuum extractors have a high rate of failure, and when these devices fail, the need for a c-section may be pressing.
In addition to the above, in the most severe of cases, the use of forceps and vacuum extractors are even associated with neonatal death.
When an Obstetrician or Another Healthcare Professional May be Held Liable
Sometimes, even when forceps or vacuum extractors are used properly, an injury to the mother or to the baby occurs. When a healthcare professional is acting within the medical standard of care and an injury results, the medical professional can not be held liable; liability will only be assigned to an obstetrician or another healthcare professional when an injury results from the breach of the medical standard of care owed to the patient. If your baby has suffered an injury during a delivery in which forceps or a vacuum extractor was used, you may be able to bring forth a lawsuit against the doctor responsible for delivery if you can prove that the doctor breached the medical standard of care owed to you. Examples of actions that may constitute a breach of the standard of care include:
- Misplacing the vacuum extractor suction cup;
- Using the tool (vacuum extractor or forceps) at an improper time, such as when the baby is too high within the birth canal;
- Applying too much pressure with the forceps;
- Using excessive force to extract or twist the infant;
- Using the medical tools without cause;
- Using the medical tools instead of ordering an emergency c-section;
- Twisting/rotating the baby greater than 90 degrees; or
- Using too much vacuum extractor suction.
In addition to the above, an obstetrician may also use his or her hands to remove the baby, pulling on or twisting the baby’s head, neck, arm, or shoulders. This too, when too much force is applied, is a violation of the standard of care, and can result in a variety of injuries, such as spine injuries, brachial plexus injuries, bruising, and more.
How Our Ontario Birth Injury Lawyers can Help
Knowing that your baby has been harmed during the delivery process as a result of medical malpractice can be a terrible thing to live with, especially if the injuries suffered by your child will take months or years to heal, or worse – will affect him or her for life. When you call our Ontario birth injury lawyers at the Preszler Law Firm, we will start working on your case immediately. Our process includes gathering all evidence necessary for your claim, working with various experts to prove that a breach of the medical standard of care occurred, evaluating the damages suffered by your family and the value of your claim, negotiating with insurance parties, representing you in all discussions with interested parties, and ultimately taking your case to court and litigating on your behalf if necessary.
Reach Our Lawyers Today for Your Free Consultation
To schedule a free consultation with our birth injury lawyers, please call us directly or send us a message telling us about the trauma you and your baby have suffered. We are highly experienced in cases involving the misuse of forceps and vacuum extractors, and we are ready to start working on your case today.