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Medical Verdicts

Vacuum suction blamed for severe retardation

June 2004 · Vol. 16, No. 6
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<court>US District Court, District of Missouri</court>

During the course of delivery, a physician applied vacuum suction to a male child’s head 15 times. The child was born with cerebral palsy and severe mental retardation, with an estimated IQ of 25.

In suing, the plaintiff alleged that the suction caused constriction of internal veins, thus cutting off blood supply to the child’s brain.

The defense, noting a slightly elevated temperature in the mother during labor, maintained that the neonate’s injuries stemmed from a maternal condition.

  • The judge awarded the plaintiff $19 million.

The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn. ( While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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