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Birth Injury from Vacuum and Forcep Extraction

Sometimes during difficult births, doctors use extraction tools such as the vacuum suction or forceps. These tools are typically used when the fetus is in distress and needs to be delivered rapidly, or when a mother has had a particularly hard and long labor and she is too exhausted to help during the delivery.

Vacuum Extraction and Forceps Explained

The vacuum extraction involves placing a soft suction cap on the infant's head when it is low in the birth canal. The doctor will then apply suction and pull as the mother pushes. The forceps may need to be used if the baby is positioned differently. These tools are shaped like tongs with the 'blades' being shaped like large spoons with holes in them. They are not sharp, although they can cause injuries to both the baby and the mother on occasion.

Birth Injury from Assisted Extraction

While superficial injuries such as small lacerations or bruises can be caused with both of these tools, occasionally more serious and even severe injuries are caused. Unfortunately, at times this is a result of negligence on the part of the attending physician. Some of the injuries which might occur when these tools are used during a birth include:

  • Severe Lacerations and Bruises – Some lacerations and bruising will require additional medical care for mother or baby.
  • Cephalohematoma – This is a condition in which blood gets trapped between the bone and the fibrous covering. This typically occurs on the baby's head as a result of the vacuum extraction, and disappears within a few days. There can be severe cases of this condition which do not disappear quickly and require medical attention.
  • Facial Paralysis – This condition is sometimes caused by the forceps pushing too hard against the fetus's face and damaging or pinching a nerve. This can make the fetus unable to move his or her facial muscles and depending upon the severity, may need treatment. Most of the time, this is temporary and the condition improves within a few weeks.
  • Intracranial Hemorrhage – This sometimes happens as a result of the vacuum extraction. It can cause blood vessels to burst in the baby's brain, causing bleeding in the brain. This condition requires immediate medical care and can sometimes be fatal.

If these conditions are due to negligence of an attending medical caregiver, the victim may choose to seek legal recourse against that caregiver.

Birth Injuries and Medical Malpractice Claims

The first step individuals should take if they feel their physician has been negligent and has caused injuries to the fetus during birth is to discuss the case with a medical malpractice attorney. Most of the time, these attorneys offer free consultations and can advise victims on their rights and options under the law. He or she can explain whether the victim has a legitimate case and advise them on what steps to take next in order to seek legal recourse.