The Vanderbilt Amnihook Infant Injury Case and the Risks of Injury with Induced Labor
Every type of medical procedure comes with its own benefits and risks and amniotomy, or artificially rupturing the amniotic sac surrounding a baby, is just one of them. Amniotomy is commonly used if a mother is overdue and her water hasn’t broken yet, to allow for fetal monitoring, or to test the color of the amniotic fluid. If amniotomy is needed, a long hook, known as an amnihook, is used to rupture the amniotic sac. But as a recent case involving a child in Tennessee reminds us, one of the risks of using an amnihook to induce labor is that it can lead to fetal lacerations.
In November 2017, Cecily Dantam went to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center where her water was broken for her. According to Dantam, the midwife, “…went in and she was like, ‘This is a tough water bag. Oh my god, this is so tough,’ and she was just jamming it in there.” Cecily’s husband Paul elaborated, “She spent 5 to 10 minutes digging with the hook and telling us it was the hardest water bag that she had ever felt.” In the process of trying to rupture the amniotic sac, the midwife had been scraping the scalp of the Dantams’ daughter, Lorelei.
When Lorelei was born, she had several very noticeable cuts on the crown of her head. Lorelei was also placed in the NICU after having some difficulties breathing, leading to low oxygen levels. Paul and Cecily both said they repeatedly asked the hospital for an explanation for the scratches on their daughter’s head. They received a letter from the hospital’s patient relations department which acknowledged the stay in the NICU, but not the scratches on Lorelei’s head. They then tried calling the hospital for an answer, but didn’t receive a response. The Datnams’ story started gaining attention after Cecily made a public Facebook post about the incident.
The Dantams have stated that they are not planning to file a lawsuit and that all they want is an apology. They also feel that it is unfair that they’re expected to pay for their daughter’s injuries. After their story gained media attention, the hospital stated that they would be reinvestigating the Dantams case.
The good news is that the cuts on Lorelei’s scalp have fully healed and she won’t have any long-term effects as a result. But it is a reminder that fetal lacerations are just one risk associated with amniotomy. In most cases, any lacerations caused during amniotomy are minor and will heal without incident, but it is possible for the tools involved to cause injuries to shoulders, eyes, or other parts of the baby’s head. Some other serious risks associated with amniotomy include umbilical cord prolapse or compression, or the placenta can become compressed, all of which can reduce oxygen to the baby. If blood vessels in the amniotic membranes are ruptured during amniotomy, the baby could lose blood.
If your child was injured after amniotomy was performed during your delivery, contact a birth trauma lawyer. Seeing your child injured is a deeply upsetting and overwhelming experience. You’re left with a lot of questions that you need answers to. A lawyer will be able to help answer all of your questions and help you figure out what options you have.