Vacuum extractors are devices that include a cup placed on the baby’s head and a suction device. Some extractors use a soft cup and some use a hard metal cup. Some use a hand pump to create the vacuum, while others use an electric compressor.
When labor is not progressing adequately, doctors sometimes choose to use a vacuum extractor to assist with the vaginal delivery. Like forceps, a delivery by vacuum extractor can be safe and effective in the hands of a trained and competent obstetrician. However, inexperienced, unpracticed, or hurried obstetricians can make mistakes with these devices, which can cause permanent injury to the child. If the vacuum extractor is used improperly or used in cases where an instrument-assisted delivery is ill-advised, the baby can suffer serious birth injuries or death.
Call The Becker Law Firm at (440) 252-4399 to discuss your case with our vacuum extractor birth injury attorneys in Ohio.
Safer, But Safe Enough?
There is controversy within the medical community as to whether vacuum extractors or forceps are a safer method of delivery. The indications for using vacuum extractors are identical to forceps use. When labor is prolonged or the baby is in distress, vacuum use may be warranted. The vacuum extractor should not be used when the baby is premature, cephalopelvic disproportion is a concern, or when the baby must be repositioned. Regardless, every year some babies suffer permanent brain damage or death due to vacuum extractor injuries.
There are many instances in which a vacuum extractor delivery is inadvisable. For example, if the baby is less than 34 weeks old, if the cervix is inadequately dilated, if the baby must be rotated or repositioned, or if there are signs of fetal distress, doctors are cautioned against the use of a vacuum extractor.
Negligent management of vacuum extractors can result in subgaleal bleed (bleeding into the area between the scalp and the skull), hypovolemic shock, and brain damage in a newborn.
Common Vacuum Extractor Injuries
Injuries with the extractor can be caused by improper use or prolonged use (it is generally unsafe to attempt this method for more than 20 minutes). Sometimes, too much suction is applied, the cup is positioned incorrectly, or the vacuum is used when the baby is too far in the birth canal.
Common types of vacuum extractor birth injuries include: