Doctor told to apologise to dead baby's mum

  • 16/06/2014

An obstetrician has been ordered to brush up on his communication skills after treating a pregnant woman with disrespect during a birth in which her baby died.

The Health and Disability Commission has reviewed the case of a 46-year-old mother of three who went into labour with her fourth child in late 2011.

The woman went to an unnamed hospital when her waters broke at 38 weeks pregnant and was induced two days later. The obstetrician was called when CTG scans showed the baby's heart rate slowing, but instead of immediately ordering an emergency caesarean, he opted to collect blood samples first.

"The woman said that the obstetrician did not explain this assessment or his proposed management plan, and the assessment was distressing due to the obstetrician's abrupt manner," Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill said in his decision released today.

The baby boy was born by caesarean section a short time later but was pale and unresponsive.

"The paediatric team was called and resuscitation commenced but sadly, a heart rate was never established and resuscitation was stopped after 19 minutes."

Specialists diagnosed a concealed placental abruption, a dangerous complication in which the placental lining separates from the mother's uterus.

The commission ruled the obstetrician breached the code for failing to respond appropriately to the abnormalities on the CTG, and delayed the emergency caesarean section.

He was censured for being unprofessional, and not being respectful to the woman, who told the commission the doctor was "very grumpy" and "aggressive".

The obstetrician was ordered to write a letter of apology to the couple concerned and told to do a training course to improve his communication and decision-making skills.

The case has been referred to the Medical Council of New Zealand and Director of Proceedings for further investigation.


source: newshub archive