On the morning of December 23, 2010 I went into labor with my first child. I arrived at our local birthing center in more pain than I anticipated for this event. It was a busy night, and I felt neglected by the different nurse mid-wives coming in and out of the room. My daughter was in a funny side-ways position, which was causing ‘back labor’ and the pain I mentioned that I wasn’t anticipating. Early the next morning our daughter’s heartbeat had dropped to 40 bpm, and she had passed her first stool. We rushed to the hospital where I had an emergency c-section. They cut my bladder. I wore a catheter for the first month of motherhood. I was filled with anger toward every practitioner involved, as well as the shame that my body had failed me. I became depressed.
Later, I was able to see past the anger and realize this was nobody’s fault, not even my own. What occurred was not negligent, rather it was an adverse unintentional outcome of a very difficult birth. “It is important to understand one fundamental concept – there is a difference between adverse events and negligence. An adverse event is an injury occurring during the course of medical management” (Sohn, 2013). The doctors and midwives did everything they could to manage a difficult situation, and to keep my daughter alive. And in that regard, they succeed. Managing post-partum OCD and depression, they did not. “Negligence is the failure to provide a standard level of care or, in other words, the delivery of substandard care”(Sohn, 2013). At this point I would highly encourage anyone who reads this to please read this following link, and consider which of these scenarios are negligent or adverse: https://www.propublica.org/article/lost-mothers-maternal-health-died-childbirth-pregnancy. I think many of these maternal deaths are adverse, some are uniformed on the part of patients themselves, and I believe others are truly negligent.“According to researchers in Georgia, Michigan and other states, mental health disorders have become a leading contributor to maternal deaths among white women in the months after childbirth” (Cillekens, Freitas, Martin, 2017) are therefore, preventable deaths, and negligent on the part of all health care providers involved. When mental health disorders are the leading contributor of death, there is negligence occurring without a doubt. Again, “negligence is the failure to provide a standard level of care…” (Sohn, 2013).
I don’t know if it’s immediately helpful to know how many women suffer pregnancy related health complications, or that I am one of many women who lives with a mental health disorder. I certainly feel less alone, but I also wonder why, why is this all so commonplace? It was, however, helpful to find the definitions and differences between negligence, and adverse. The high occurrences of adverse health effects does lead to more questions. Why aren’t consumers being educated more on the signs and signals of their possible adverse health outcomes due to medical treatments and conditions? I am again (for the second time so far) reminded of something our professor said in the first week, “ in order to have autonomy, you need to have more information, and in order to have more information, you need more consumer regulation.” I think more than anything I would encourage people to look into the adverse health effects of their medical conditions, and treatments. I would encourage them to ask their doctors in detail about the signs and signals of life threatening conditions related to their conditions and treatments.
Martin, N., Cillekens, E., & Frietas, A. (2017, July 17). Lost Mothers. Retrieved July 17, 2017, from https://www.propublica.org/article/lost-mothers-maternal-health-died-childbirth-pregnancy
Sohn, D. (2013, February 15). Negligence, genuine error, and litigation. Retrieved June 23, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3576054/