Kylie Frost, an expecting mother, sought the services of Laura Hamilton, a midwife who conducts home-based births in Lewis County. Hamilton had supposedly assisted with delivery in over 4,000 births, spanning a 34-year career. Unfortunately, Frost’s pregnancy did not go as planned, as she began experiencing large blood clots. Frost claims that Hamilton told her that the condition was common and took no immediate action. Frost’s problems continued for a few days longer.
Next, Frost visited Hamilton’s clinic complaining of abdominal pain and bleeding. Hamilton attempted to detect the baby’s pulse but was unable to do so and called 911. Frost’s baby had died and was delivered by Cesarean section at the hospital. Frost brought a civil suit against her based on negligence shortly thereafter.
Upon researching Hamilton’s past, it was determined that she had a lengthy record of past complaints and disciplinary actions during her career. In one claim, she was determined to be negligent in the death of a 21-year-old mother. The Health Department records revealed that she was currently the subject of three inquiries and that two of them resulted in lawsuits, along with another case of malpractice that was in the appeals process. In the interim, Hamilton continued her practice.
Donna Moniz, Hamilton’s attorney, defended her client saying that she was an experienced and committed provider. She explained that the process of child birth has risks and complications that are inherent. The Department of Health records showed approximately 22 complaints, most of which resulted in a number of investigations. The Program Director at the Department concurred that it seemed that Hamilton had excessive complaints.
According to Medscape, OB-GYNs, who are physicians that are often involved in pregnancy care and baby delivery are among the most likely to face malpractice lawsuits. In Washington State, there are two professional organizations that define the standards of care for midwife practice; however, the state does not maintain laws explicitly for midwives that are legally binding. The law generally states that midwives have a duty to seek physician assistance when extreme deviations exist for either the baby or mother.
As further research was underway on Hamilton, several other startling incidents were discovered including:
- In 1989, Hamilton apparently had written prescriptions including antibiotics and birth control pills, which is far beyond the realm of practice for a midwife
- A 1991 incident found that she violated a requirement that a backup plan be in-place during a delivery to quickly transfer a mother to the hospital
- In 1993, she was disciplined for not adhering to documentation requirements and nearly lost her accreditation for handling Medicaid clients
Frost’s case against Hamilton is currently underway in a superior court, and officials are monitoring the status of this and at least one other suit currently.