Excessive Use of Vacuum Extractor Causes Cerebral Palsy
Article posted on:01/21/2009
An Illinois mother recently settled a medical malpractice case against a hospital, their family practitioner and a nurse for $15,350,000 after the family practitioner attempted 18 times, unsuccessfully, to deliver her child using a vacuum extractor. During the course of these unsuccessful attempts, the baby became distressed and ultimately an emergency cesarean section was required to deliver the boy. Following delivery, the boy was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy and mental retardation. He requires the use of a wheel chair as well. In the lawsuit, the mother alleged that the family doctor negligently caused brain damage to the child through his repeated use of the extractor; that a nurse who was present failed to properly serve her role as a patient advocate by insisting that the physician stop using the vacuum extractor; and that the hospital failed to exercise reasonable care in evaluating the doctor's competency to perform safe vacuum deliveries at the hospital.
Cerebral palsy is a complex medical condition that ranges in severity from mild to severe. Typically, those afflicted with cerebral palsy have an inability to control their motor function; i.e., they lack adequate muscle control and coordination. Common symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy include: involuntary movements of limbs; muscle spasticity (tightness), inability to walk properly (gait); seizures, breathing problems or difficulty swallowing; bladder and bowel continence issues; learning disabilities, and the impairment of one or more senses (sight, hearing, etc.). More severe cases may also result in a child having difficulty speaking.
In many instances, cerebral palsy is preventable. Perhaps the greatest risk factor associated with cerebral palsy is a lack of oxygen flowing to the child (asphyxia) during the birthing process. This can occur if the umbilical cord becomes wrapped around the infant's neck, or if the infant's head becomes stuck during the delivery. In essence, when an infant is deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period of time, brain cells die, causing injury.