Improper Use of Labor and Delivery Tools Can Result in Serious Birth Injuries

An estimated 28,000 infants are injured in the labor and delivery process each year in the United States. Many of their injuries were likely preventable.

surgical_roomBirth injury rates are highest in vaginal births that involved the use of labor and delivery tools, such as forceps or vacuum extractors.

These instruments are used to help guide the infant out of the birth canal when the mother is unable to push due to exhaustion, illness, infection, or pain-relief drugs, or the infant is stuck, in the breech position, or in distress.

Though forceps and vacuum extractors have been used in the delivery room for decades, they compound risks for both mothers and infants.

Forceps

These look like a pair of metal salad tongs. When doctors need to deliver an infant quickly, they can fit the forceps around the head and gently pull to free him or her from the birth canal. In capable and well-trained hands, forceps can help ensure infants are delivered safely. However, when used carelessly, forceps can cause:

  • Fetal strokes
  • Facial injuries and palsy
  • Skull fractures
  • Head bruising or swelling
  • Seizures or seizure disorders
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Brain damage, such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy

Vacuum Extractor

This tool features a hard or soft cup that attaches to the top rear portion of an infant's head and allows the doctor to use the gentle suction to pull the baby out of the birth canal.

However, special care must be taken to ensure this procedure is safe. Vacuum extraction is indicated for infants between 34 and 36 weeks gestation, who aren't too large for their mother's pelvis, and are positioned in a way that allows for safe extraction.

Common vacuum extraction birth injuries include:

  • Skull fractures
  • Brachial plexus injuries, such as Erb’s palsy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Brain hemorrhages
  • Paralysis
  • Developmental and learning disabilities

Consult an Experienced Birth Injury Lawyer

If your infant sustained a birth injury due to the improper use of labor and delivery tools such as forceps or vacuums, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Accident and Injury Law Group today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your potential birth injury case.

 

Pellegrino Certa
Pittsburgh Personal Injury and Car Accident Attorney
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