New Jersey Forceps and Vacuum Extraction Lawyers
During childbirth, when a fetus is in distress or gets stuck in the birth canal, the use of forceps or a vacuum extractor (similar to a large suction cup) can facilitate a healthy delivery. This procedure is called an assisted delivery, or an operative vaginal delivery.
Although assisted delivery techniques are relatively safe, misuse of these tools may result in birth injuries and constitutes medical malpractice. There is no excuse for a child to suffer permanent injury due to the misuse of forceps or a vacuum extractor. If you or your child has been injured due to a physician’s negligence, the birth injury lawyers at Shebell & Shebell can fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
When Is Assisted Delivery Necessary?
Generally, you won’t know that you will require assistance with delivery until you have already progressed far into your labor. The use of a vacuum or forceps may be used if:
- You have been pushing for a long time. This often happens when a baby is very large and gets stuck in the birth canal. Poor positioning of the baby, i.e. breech or transverse presentation, can also cause a baby to get stuck. In some cases, a doctor should have foreseen these issues prior to your labor and scheduled a C-section delivery.
- You become too tired to continue with labor, or have a medical condition that makes it impossible to continue.
- The baby exhibits signs of fetal distress and needs to be removed from the birth canal as quickly as possible. Although this often occurs due to a baby being stuck in the birth canal for a long period of time (generally, more than three hours) there can be other causes of fetal distress that require an assisted delivery.
What Is The Difference Between Forceps and a Vacuum Extractor?
Forceps are large clamps resembling tongs that are used to turn a baby into proper position during delivery, or pull the baby through the birth canal. They can cause injury when placed on the wrong part of a baby’s head, or when they are used during the wrong stage of labor. Their proper use usually requires a physician with significant skill and experience.
A vacuum is a large, soft, plastic cap that is used to suction the baby out. Sometimes, a metal cup is used. Unlike the forceps, which do not require any assistance from the mother, the vacuum requires a mother to cooperate with the doctor and help push the baby out with each contraction.
Common complications caused by the improper use of forceps include:
- Permanent disfigurement from excessive pressure, including facial scarring
- Brain damage
- Skull fractures
- Eye injuries, including retinal hemorrhage
- Erb’s Palsy, nerve damage to the shoulder, causes paralysis or limited mobility in the arms and hands. Rushed forceps deliveries are often responsible for this type of injury.
Common complications caused by improper vacuum extraction technique include:
- Subgaleal brain hemorrhage. This is a serious, life-threatening complication that occurs when the vacuum ruptures a vein that bleeds into the space between the scalp and skull. This injury is most likely to occur if excessive force is applied, or if the cup is applied for a prolonged period. It can lead to neurological impairments and Cerebral Palsy.
- Cerebral hemorrhage
- Intraventricular hemorrhage, which is most likely to occur in premature babies
- Subdural hematoma or hemorrhage. Seizures, severe jaundice, a rapidly enlarging head and a poor Moro reflex can occur with these types of hemorrhages.
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage, which can lead to seizures, lethargy and apnea
- Fetal stroke. Trauma can cause formation of blood clots inside of blood vessels (thrombosis) that can lead to stroke.
- Disfigurement of the skull and scalp
- Skull fracture
- Injury to the mother if the cup detaches while inside of her or is inserted improperly
- Erb’s Palsy, which often occurs because the baby’s shoulder is stuck on the mother’s pelvic bone (shoulder dystocia).
It is the doctor’s duty to inform the mother of all risks associated with assisted delivery as well as the alternatives. A physician must also ensure that the instruments are used properly, and that both mother and child are monitored both during and after birth. A physician should not twist the neck or head of the child. No excessive pulling should occur. Generally, the child should not be pulled for longer than 10-15 minutes. Physicians must also be ready to move on to a C-Section deliver immediately if the assisted delivery is not proceeding smoothly.
The decision to use one tool over the other should be based on standards of care and the skill of the physician. Unfortunately, doctors may use an instrument merely because they have more experience with it and feel more comfortable, even though it is not the best choice for the birthing situation.
We Are Committed To Helping Victims of Negligent Assisted Delivery
If a physician’s mistake has harmed you or your newborn baby, you may be facing a lifetime of costs, including medical expenses, medical equipment, long-term care, and lost wages to care for your child. The birth injury lawyers at Shebell & Shebell have a proven track record of success, and can help you hold responsible physicians accountable. For a free consultation, call us at 866-957-5237 or contact us online today.