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Vacuum Extraction Injury Lawyer

Vacuum extraction is a form of assisted vaginal delivery used to hasten childbirth when labor stops progressing or fetal distress occurs. An improper vacuum-assisted delivery can lead to brain injuries from excessive pressure on the baby’s scalp or prolonged oxygen deprivation. If your baby has suffered a birth injury from vacuum extraction complications, our skilled vacuum extraction injury lawyers can help you pursue substantial damages.

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During a vacuum extraction procedure, the attending doctor places a plastic cup on the newborn’s head, which is then attached to a vacuum pump. The vacuum created by this equipment creates suction, allowing the device to attach to the baby’s scalp. The doctor or midwife then uses a handle on the cup to gently pull while the mother pushes.

A baby could sustain severe injuries if the doctor pulls with excessive force, attaches the device improperly, or attempts the procedure when a Cesarean is more appropriate.

If your baby was injured during a vacuum-assisted delivery, our award-winning vacuum extraction injury attorneys can evaluate your case and identify whether medical malpractice occurred. As nationally recognized Chicago birth injury lawyers and advocates of children with intellectual and cognitive disabilities, our knowledge of state and federal birth injury laws is unmatched.

When Is The Use Of Vacuum Extraction Considered Necessary?

Vacuum extraction is most commonly performed when one or more of the following labor or birth complications occur:

  • Prolonged labor, which increases the risk of distress in the fetus
  • Non-reassuring fetal heart rate, also known as fetal distress
  • An inability of the mother to push due to exhaustion or health conditions

The fetal heart rate is considered non-reassuring if it is abnormally high or low, exhibits a pattern of abrupt decreases, or takes too long to return to normal after a contraction.

When first detecting fetal distress, some providers may provide supplemental oxygen or intravenous fluids to the mother or help the mother change positions to alleviate the distress. If these measures fail to immediately return the fetal heart rate to a reassuring status, health care providers will resort to an assisted vaginal birth or a Cesarean section as indicated.

Vacuum extraction is used in about 2.5 percent of births. It is more common than forceps use, which has declined dramatically since 2020.

Risks and Complications of Vacuum Extraction

If used incorrectly, the instruments utilized in a vacuum extraction procedure have the potential to extensively and critically harm the newborn. The Food and Drug Administration heavily regulates vacuum extraction procedures. It has even issued several health advisories regarding the technique because inexperienced or improperly trained medical staff can cause severe injuries.

The skulls of newborns are soft and malleable, which under normal circumstances aid in passing the baby through the pelvis. However, this can also lead to severe head and brain trauma if medical staff do not act with the necessary care during a birth. Some of the complications that can result from vacuum extraction procedures include:

  • Scalp and brain swelling and damage
  • Bruising and subgaleal hematoma, which is bleeding between the skull and scalp
  • Skull fractures and bone distortions
  • Intracranial hemorrhage, which is bleeding around or in the brain
  • Neonatal jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Strokes
  • Cerebral palsy
  • A variety of other injuries, which can lead to permanent medical issues, disabilities, or even death

These injuries can result from incorrectly using the vacuum extraction equipment. For instance, the doctor may twist the vacuum extractor or pull excessively hard.

In addition, the doctor may improperly continue with further attempts despite the technique’s ineffectiveness. In such cases, a cesarean section delivery is far safer for both the mother and the baby.

Vacuum-assisted delivery should not be attempted under the following circumstances:

  • Premature birth
  • High position in the birth canal
  • Baby too big to fit through the birth canal
  • Fetal position that is not head-first
  • Bleeding disorder in the infant

According to medical guidelines, practitioners should not attempt a vacuum-assisted birth for longer than 20 minutes. Providers should stop the procedure if the suction cup repeatedly detaches or if they observe signs of scalp trauma. If fetal distress is noted, a prudent practitioner would likely proceed with a Cesarean section.

Signs of a Vacuum Extraction Injury

You may notice your baby has a cone-headed appearance after a vacuum-assisted birth. This condition is caused by swelling in the skull from the suction. It is known as caput succedaneum. It is usually not serious, and most babies’ head shapes will return to normal within a few days. However, it can lead to jaundice, which is characterized by a yellow coloring of the skin.

You may also notice crater-like bulges on your baby’s skull after a vacuum-assisted birth. These are clotted pools of blood known as cephalohematomas. While usually harmless, cephalohematomas can cause serious infections, including osteomyelitis and sepsis. Monitor these closely until they dissolve. They could also lead to jaundice or abnormal bone formations that require surgery.

The most concerning warning signs of a serious vacuum-extraction injury are symptoms of bleeding inside the skull, which could cause brain swelling or bleeding in the brain, leading to brain damage. The warning signs of brain bleeds include the following:

  • Breathing problems
  • Slow heart rate
  • Feeding problems
  • Seizures
  • High-pitched cry
  • Lethargy
  • Swollen soft spots
  • Low reflexes
  • Reduced muscle tone
  • Abnormal eye movements

Any of these warning signs should be considered a medical emergency. Immediate medical attention is necessary to minimize long-term brain damage.

When Can A Vacuum Extraction Injury Be Considered Medical Malpractice?

Negative outcomes can occur even when a doctor does everything right. To succeed in a medical malpractice claim, you must establish the four following elements of negligence:

  1. Duty of care: You have a provider-patient relationship.
  2. Breach of duty: The provider failed to provide a reasonable standard of care.
  3. Injury: You or your baby suffered an injury that would not have occurred were it not for the breach of duty.
  4. Proximate cause: The provider’s breach of duty is the actual cause of the injuries.

The reasonable standard of care is the course of action a reasonably prudent health care provider with similar qualifications would have taken based on the information available at the time. Doctors violate the reasonable standard of care when they stray from medical guidelines.

In vacuum-assisted deliveries, the following may constitute a breach of duty:

  • Failure to monitor the fetal heart rate during labor
  • Waiting too long to intervene when fetal distress occurs
  • Attempting vacuum extraction while the fetus is too high in the birth canal
  • Pulling too hard
  • Incorrect technique
  • Attempting the procedure for too long
  • Failure to perform a timely C-section
  • Failure to consider the fetus’ medical conditions, such as bleeding disorders

When a doctor or midwife ignores medical standards and causes harm, you may have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim. You should attempt this without the assistance of an experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyer.

Your case will involve a claim against a powerful medical malpractice insurance company, which will likely refuse to compensate you. These companies invest extensive financial resources into their defense. You will need an attorney who has the resources to fight back.

We have been standing up to large health care providers and powerful medical malpractice insurance companies for over three decades. We know what it takes to hold them accountable, and we have the financial resources to stand up to them and win. Call us today at (312) 332-2872 for a free case evaluation.

Legal FAQs

Below are answers to common legal questions we receive about vacuum extraction birth injury claims.

Can I Hold the Hospital Accountable for My Child's Injury?

Hospitals are health care providers responsible for providing a reasonable standard of care under the law. Therefore, you can hold them responsible when your child’s vacuum extraction birth injuries result from the negligence of any hospital employee, such as a nurse. You can also hold a hospital accountable for administrative failings that contributed to your injuries, such as a lack of supplies or delays in receiving services.

What Types of Compensation Can I Receive for My Child's Injury?

You may be able to recover the following damages for your child’s vacuum extraction injuries as parents or guardians and on behalf of the child:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity of the child
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of bodily functions
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Can I Afford a Lawyer?

Yes, you can afford an attorney because our compassionate and skilled vacuum extraction injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. We charge no upfront fees, and you do not owe us anything unless we successfully recover compensation for your claim.

How Long Will the Legal Process Take?

Medical malpractice claims are complex cases that generally take several months—and sometimes years—to resolve. Medical malpractice claims tend to take longer than other personal injury claims because of the need for detailed medical evidence. Claims that go to trial typically take the longest. We are committed to recovering your compensation as quickly as possible.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Vacuum Extraction Injury Lawsuit in Chicago, IL?

The Illinois medical malpractice statute of limitations requires that most vacuum extraction injury lawsuits be filed within two years of the injury date or the date you discovered the injury, with a hard deadline of four years after the malpractice.


Contact Our Chicago Vacuum Extraction Injury Attorneys Today for a Free Case Review

We are a nationally recognized birth injury law firm in Chicago with more than $2 billion in successful case results. Co-founder John Perconti has received widespread acclaim as a leading medical malpractice lawyer. His in-depth knowledge of complex medical issues has helped him win numerous multimillion-dollar birth injury verdicts and settlements.

Our success in the courtroom has won us the respect of our adversaries, who know we can win. We use this as leverage in settlement negotiations to get our clients the maximum compensation they deserve. Below are just a few examples of the types of outstanding settlements and verdicts we regularly achieve for parents and children with birth injuries:

With more than 400 years of combined experience, you can count on our knowledgeable vacuum extraction lawyers to work hard for you. With no upfront fees and no obligation to pay unless we win, you risk nothing when you hire our experienced vacuum extraction attorneys. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.