The birth of a baby should be a time of celebration and happiness. All too often, it can be a time of sadness as women and babies are injured during childbirth. Doctors often use devices, such as vacuums, to assist in the delivery of a child. Devastating birth injuries can occur when a vacuum assisted delivery is not done properly.
Vacuum-assisted delivery devices may cause serious or fatal complications for the baby after delivery. Healthcare professionals who use vacuum assisted delivery devices, or those who care for these infants following delivery, must be aware that the device may produce life-threatening complications. Additionally, health care professionals responsible for the care of neonates must be alerted when a vacuum assisted delivery device has been used and adequately monitor for the signs and symptoms of device-related injuries.
According to the National Vital Statistics, the rate of operative vaginal delivery fell 45 percent, from 9.4 percent of live births in 1994 to 5.2 percent in 2004. Vacuum deliveries comprised 4.1 percent of all live births in 2004, whereas forceps deliveries dropped dramatically, from 5.5 percent of births in 1989 to 1.1 percent in 2004.
The recommended use for all these products is to apply steady traction. Rocking movements or applying torque to the device may be dangerous. Additionally, the position of the baby must be acceptable prior to vacuum use, and it is not recommended for babies less than 34 weeks gestation. Since the instructions may be different for each device, it is important to use the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the particular device being used. Given what is at stake, doctors need to take the time to educate themselves on the device they are using.
The FDA has issued a warning regarding vacuum assisted delivery
In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about the potential risk of serious intracranial injury or death with the use of vacuum devices. In this warning, the FDA estimated that use of vacuum assisted delivery devices increased from 3.5 percent of all deliveries to 5.9 percent. The FDA warned that some of the complications associated with the use of vacuum-assisted delivery may be avoidable and provided a number of recommendations to practitioners.
Two major life-threatening complications can occur with the use of vacuum assisted delivery:
• Subgaleal hematoma (Subaponeurotic hematoma)
This occurs when emissary veins are damaged, and blood accumulates in the potential space between the scalp and the skull. This condition is dangerous because of the large potential space for blood accumulation and the possibility of life-threatening hemorrhage.
• Intracranial Hemorrhage
This may include subdural, subarachnoid, intraventricular, and intraparenchymal hemorrhage.
If vacuum assistance is to be used, the doctors using the device must:
- Be educated in the use of the vacuum and aware of the indications, contraindications, and precautions when using the device.
- Understand the manufacturer’s instructions regarding cup placement, vacuum strength to be used, cumulative duration of applications and number of recommended extraction attempts.
- Alert those who will be responsible for the baby’s care that a vacuum assisted delivery device has been used. This allows them to monitor the baby for signs of complications.
- Educate the neonatal care staff about the complications of vacuum assisted delivery. The neonatal care staff must watch for the signs of these complications.
If your child has been injured during birth by the medical malpractice of the doctors involved, Chelsie King Garza can help.