Injury with Vacuum Extraction Delivery or Forceps Delivery?

Attorney Lyle Warshauer | 888-981-5602 | Free Consult

If errors are made during childbirth, an injury from vacuum extraction delivery or forceps delivery may result.

Lyle Griffin Warshauer, a birth injury attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia, explains how to tell if malpractice played a role in a birth injury.

Warshauer is a senior partner and co-founder of Warshauer Law Group. She can be reached by calling 888-981-5602 or by submitting a contact form on this page. The consultation is free, and you only owe attorney fees if your case is successful.

What are “operative deliveries?”

There are many types, but the most common is a cesarean section or c-section. There are also “operative vaginal deliveries,” in which certain tools are used to assist with a vaginal birth.

Are operative vaginal deliveries common?

For vacuum and forcep-assisted deliveries, that are not many deliveries that utilize those devices. Up to a third of deliveries are c-sections. Roughly 3 to 5 percent of births utilize those other types of devices.

However, the medical industry is dominated by trends. Warshauer says that there is a current trend to move away from c-sections, which involves an uptick of vacuum-assisted delivery and forceps-assisted delivery.

In 2015, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists sanctioned the use of these devices again, which has also led to an increase in use.

Are there safety risks involved with operative vaginal deliveries?


With forceps, the doctor is using a device similar to a large pair of salad tongs which are placed on either side of the baby’s head. When the mother is pushing, these forceps assist with that effort. If someone is unfamiliar with the devices, if they use too much pressure, or if other medical conditions are ignored, forceps can potentially cause permanent injury to the baby’s head. It can also injure the mom.

Doctors may also use a vacuum to assist with delivery. If used improperly, the vacuum device can cause bleeding, hemorrhaging, or other types of damage.

Is vacuum extraction safe for the mother?

Some studies suggest that both methods of delivery risk causing a perineal injury to the mother. It can also increase the need for an episiotomy. These injuries can occur without the device as well, but using the device increases the likelihood that they will occur.

Does the mother need to give consent for the use of operative vaginal delivery devices?

Yes. It is an industry standard across all states that doctors must have consent from the patient before using these types of devices. Ideally, the doctor should have obtained consent prior to the beginning of labor. Usually when doctors consider using one of these tools, it’s because the mom is exhausted from a long delivery or there is a problem with the baby. Doctors should avoid seeking consent during moments of extreme stress

What if the mother can’t consent to the use of these tools?

Perhaps the mother is under the influence of pain medicine, or for some reason cannot give consent for the doctor to use the vacuum or forceps. In this type of case, it probably would go against the standard of care for the doctor to employ these devices without consent of the mother.

How can you tell if malpractice occurred during childbirth?

The first sign that malpractice occurred is an injury. The second sign is that it’s a type of injury not normally associated with a healthy birth where everything went according to plan. A large hematoma on top of the baby’s head could be a sign that something went wrong. Some examples: using a vacuum on a premature baby, or using the vacuum too many times.

From there, you have to look back at the full record of events: did the doctor have a good reason for using the device? Did they use it at the correct time in the correct way? What position was the baby in? Did the doctor use too much force?

When is the right time to contact an attorney about potential malpractice?

As soon as possible. If you suspect that something went wrong, an attorney can launch an investigation to find out if medical malpractice occurred. It’s important to act fast, especially when caring for injuries that happened to a baby.

If the doctor told you that they didn’t make any mistakes, do you still need to contact an attorney?

Yes. If the doctor messed up, they probably won’t admit it to you. It is your right to find out what happened, to be compensated for mistakes made that caused serious harm.

Attorney Warshauer can be reached by calling 888-981-5602 or by submitting a contact form on this page. The consultation is free, and you only owe attorney fees if your case is successful.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.


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