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After Birth Injury Midwife No Longer Allowed To Practice

Vicki Anne McMillan was a midwife in Queenstown, New Zealand. After two troubled births causing injury to the babies and mothers, a Human Rights Review Tribunal determined McMillian will no longer be able to practice as a midwife in New Zealand. The tribunal found the midwife failed the mothers and children on 15 counts, leaving the children suffering permanent injury and mothers facing emotional trauma. 

January 2016 Labor and Birth

In the first case, the tribunal found the midwife failed the mother and child on 15 counts, including: 

  • Leaving the mother for 1 ½ hours in the late first stages of labor; 
  • Not having a plan if the mother went over term; 
  • Failing to inform the mother of the risks of a home birth;
  • Failing to record tests or keep clinical notes; 
  • Failing to keep the mother informed; 
  • Not acting after clear indicators of an abnormal labor; and
  • Not providing necessary information to the medical team who took over. 

After a long labor, the baby was born not breathing. After the child was resuscitated, the child was diagnosed with encephalopathy. Encephalopathy is a birth injury caused by depriving the infant of oxygen

The midwife’s practicing certificate was suspended in April 2016 based on the grounds that she posed a risk of serious harm to the public by practicing below the standard of care. 

April 2015 Labor and Birth

In another case, the midwife’s patient gave birth on April 7, 2015, after a 12-hour labor. The midwife transferred care to a hospital to suture a perineal tear. However, the next day, an emergency department doctor told the mother her baby may have been deprived of oxygen and was suffering seizures. 

In this case, the tribunal found that the midwife failed in her care by: 

  • Failing to properly measure the baby’s height;
  • Failing to discuss transfer to another hospital;
  • Failing to recognize the problems in labor;
  • Failing to consult with an obstetrician;
  • Sending the woman home while in active labor; 
  • Failing to document discussion; 
  • Failing to try recommended maneuvers to help during labor; 
  • Failing to document post-delivery care; and 
  • Failing to complete an adequate handover of care to the hospital. 

Midwife Malpractice in Pennsylvania

Midwives are trained health professionals who help healthy women deliver babies at birthing centers or in the comfort of the mother’s home. They help the mother during labor, deliver, and for soon after the birth of the new child.

Many mothers want an alternative to the hospital setting and doctor-patient relationship with a standard OB/GYN. Some pregnant patients feel like they do not get the one-on-one care from a doctor who is busy dealing with so many patients and seek out a midwife as an alternative. 

When labor and birth do not involve complications or emergency situations, a midwife can help healthy mothers deliver babies. There are a few midwife certification levels, including: 

  • Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs): Registered nurses who have graduated from an accredited nurse-midwifery education program and have passed a national exam.
  • Certified Midwives (CMs): Non-nurse midwives that have earned a bachelor’s degree (or higher) in a healthcare field, completed an accredited midwifery education course, and passed a national exam.
  • Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs): Non-nurse midwives with training and experience in childbirth, including childbirth outside of the hospital setting, and passed a national exam.

One of the most important parts of being a midwife is knowing when to seek professional help. If there are birth complications, a midwife may be required to recognize the problems and consult with a doctor or hospital. Failure to consult may be considered malpractice. 

Philadelphia Birth Injury Lawyers

If your child was injured or suffered a birth injury under the care of a midwife, you can speak with a medical malpractice attorney for answers. To discuss your child’s injury with a member of our legal team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today. 

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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