MIDWIVES IN THE NEWS

I wrote a blog in February of 2009 titled, “Midwives: A Recipe for Disaster” and received dozens and dozens of emails from irate midwives.

The point of my blog post was that, as long as a delivery goes well, a midwife may work out just fine. However, if complications arise during delivery (failure to progress, abnormal presentation, umbilical cord prolapse, etc.) then I would want my wife to be in a hospital with appropriate resources and specialists.

This very situation played out recently in Alexandria, Virginia. Here is what occurred as reported by the Washington Post. A 43-year-old woman wanted to deliver the family’s first baby at home. She sought out an Alexandria, Virginia midwife practice, BirthCare & Women’s HealthCertified Nurse-Midwives. But there was a complication; the baby was in the breech position, meaning that it was upside-down rather than having its head closest to the birth canal.

Apparently, BirthCare advised the mother that the case was too complicated for a home delivery, but she preferred to deliver at home. So she sought out a midwife experienced with difficult deliveries. That person was Karen Carr, a Baltimore midwife who has delivered more than 1,200 babies and is well known in the childbirth community.

During the delivery at the couple’s home on Sept. 11, with Carr, a birth assistant and a doula helping, the baby’s head essentially got stuck after the body had been delivered. In such cases the baby cannot survive long, so Carr and the two others worked to manipulate the baby and the mother’s position to finish the delivery.

The baby, a boy, had a heartbeat but was not breathing after delivery. Someone called 911 immediately, and those in attendance pushed air into the baby’s lungs until an ambulance arrived, he said.

The baby was declared dead at a nearby hospital.

It also appears that Carr was not licensed in Virginia. She now faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter, as well as charges of child abuse, neglect and acting without a license. She was indicted by a grand jury last week on an additional charge of negligently allowing a child’s life to be endangered.

My Take: This was truly an avoidable disaster of life-altering events for everyone concerned.

Dan Frith

Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.