My sister has a history of drug abuse and just gave birth. There were some complications during delivery. Who holds liability?

My sister, who has a history of substance abuse, recently gave birth to my nephew. She was having difficulty with labor and the doctor used some kind of suction device to help with delivery. Now my sister is insisting that something is not right with my nephew and that the doctor did something wrong during the delivery. What kind of procedure was used and is it common? Should the doctor have used it? What are possible injuries to a baby when this device is used? If my sister was under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of delivery, can the doctor still be liable for any injuries caused to my nephew?

Answers (1)

Vacuum Extraction is commonly used when the mother is experiencing a difficult delivery (such as the baby being stuck in the birth canal) to assist in the birth of the baby. It is a bowl-shaped device that is attached to the baby's head. Then suction creates a vacuum, allowing the doctor to pull the baby out. This procedure is replacing the use of forceps, although some situations may still require the use of forceps rather than vacuum extraction. Compared to using forceps, there is usually less risk of applying excessive pressure and causing bruising with vacuum extraction.

However, the force used during vacuum extraction is still strong enough to cause both minor and major injuries to the baby. One of the most serious injuries from misuse of the vacuum extraction is brain damage. Other injuries include bruising to the head, scalp lacerations, skull fractures, and swelling of the scalp.

For the doctor to be liable for your nephew's injuries, it will need to be proven that the doctor misused the devise. Keep in mind that if it was reasonable for the doctor to use the device during the delivery, then it would probably not be negligence. If your sister was under the influence of controlled substances during the delivery, it may be a factor in determining if the doctor used his best judgment in using the vacuum extraction. A common medically recommended use of vacuum extraction is when the mother is exhausted or not cooperating during the delivery process. Your sister may have been unable to assist in the delivery due to her condition.

A Medical Malpractice attorney experienced with birth trauma/injuries will have to evaluate your sister's case to determine if any negligence by the delivery doctor resulted in any injuries to your nephew.

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