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A vacuum extractor may be used by a physician to enhance delivery of a baby’s head in a vaginal delivery. However, the doctor attempting to use the extractor must be prepared to abandon the procedure when it is not working, according to operational guidelines for use as noted by the manufacturers instructions.

The FDA in may of 1998 issued a public health advisory titled “Need For Caution When Using Vacuum Assisted Delivery Devices.” A cover article in the American Family Physician journal identifies several medicolegal concerns when using vacuum extractors during birth. Before vacuum extraction is initiated, the parents should be given clear explanation of the risks and benefits of vacuum extraction for the mother and baby.

Also, avoiding the use of vacuum extraction when the baby is high in the mother’s pelvis can reduce the risk of complications. The device literature cautions the user, “do not allow the vacuum to remain at attractive levels for a total of more than ten (10) accumulated minutes.” Subgaleal hemorrhage is a serious neonatal complication of vacuum extraction which can lead to anemia, hypotension, and persistent metabolic acidosis, all of which are associated with perinatal asphyxia. This can lead to neurological impairment and cerebral palsy.

If you or a loved one are suffering as a result of a traumatic operative delivery, contact a legal professional using the form at the top of the page to see if your doctor or the hospital failed to provide you with the appropriate care.

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