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Electronic fetal monitoring increases risks in labor

Many women in New Mexico have electronic fetal monitoring, which is where the physician continuously monitors the baby's heartbeat, during labor and delivery. Studies have repeatedly shown, however, that continuous electronic fetal monitoring does not reduce the likelihood of the baby having problems.

A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention two decades ago demonstrated that continuous electronic fetal monitoring had no effect on whether or not the mother or child suffered illnesses or death during childbirth. It is meant to alert doctors to issues that would require an emergency procedure, such as a C-section or a vacuum extraction. Instead, it has been shown to increase the rates of those two procedures, each of which raises risks for the child and the mother.

One problem is that doctors often do not agree with one another on how to interpret an electronic fetal monitoring printout. In one study with four doctors, they agreed about the meaning of such readouts just 22 percent of the time. Doctors often try to use such printouts in medical malpractice lawsuits. There is a tendency for doctors to continue using electronic fetal monitoring due to fears of being sued, despite the fact that it has been demonstrated not to be effective.

When a child suffers a birth injury during delivery due to an inappropriate vacuum extraction, the parents may want to consult with a medical malpractice attorney. In a vacuum extraction, the doctor attaches a vacuum cup to the child's head and sucks the baby out. If one is performed when it should not have been and the baby is injured, the doctor may be held responsible for negligence through a medical malpractice lawsuit. Parents may be able to recoup damages on their child's behalf, including current and future medical expenses and others, depending on the injury's severity.

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