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Kaiser Doc Severs Baby's Spinal Cord with Vacuum Extractor

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"A TIMES INVESTIGATION Kaiser doctor, accused of negligence, remains on the
job "I've been telling these guys for years that he was going to kill
someone," said Dr. Gilbert Moran, the former ob-gyn chief. "And no one would

By Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

October 16, 2007

Late one April night, the first of Sarah Valenzuela's twins arrived with
little trouble, but the second stayed put.

Though the baby was not in distress, Kaiser Permanente perinatologist Hamid
Safari attached a vacuum extractor to the boy's head to draw him out. Again
and again he tugged, but still the baby would not come.

He vigorously shook the vacuum, up and down, side to side, according to
government documents and hospital incident reports.

It took 90 minutes and six tries -- the last with Safari on his knees,
pulling. Horrified staffers -- and the boy's father -- looked on as baby
Devin finally emerged. His skin was a bloodless white, his neck elongated
and floppy.

His spinal cord had been severed.

Safari lashed out at a nurse. "What did you do to that baby? I gave you a
good baby," he said, according to a complaint letter the nurse sent to her
union representative.

Staffers at the Fresno birthing center were devastated and angry -- and not
just because of the twin lost that night in 2005.

Over the years, doctors and nurses repeatedly had complained to higher-ups
-- including Kaiser's top medical officer in Northern and Central California
-- about problems they saw in Safari's skills and behavior, according to
interviews and documents.

This is a story not just of tragic medical outcomes, but of a health plan
that did not prevent them."

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