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Midwife Faces Charges After Trying to Hide Connection to Problematic Birth

The Daily Mail reported this week on child abuse charges filed against a midwife after attempts to cover up birthing complications.

According to the story, the midwife was helping a mother during a birth in late August of this year. The delivery was a breech–with the child positioned to be born feet first instead of head first as is normal. Unfortunately, serious problems developed for both the child and mother. But the midwife brushed it all off and pretended as if everything was fine. Specifically, the baby was born with severe bleeding on the brain and retina damage. In addition, the mother’s placenta was not delivered which led to an infection when the placenta became toxic.

However, regardless of the midwife’s assurances that things were fine, the family noticed something was wrong two days after the birth. They took the child to a local hospital.

Midwife Birth Injury Cover-Up
The midwife told the family not to tell the hospital that she was involved in the delivery. That is because she was apparently “having problems with her Midwifery license.” Eventually, the family did not follow those orders and told the medical professionals about the midwife’s assistance. Shortly thereafter the midwife was arrested. The charges involved intimidation of a witness and child abuse. In a subsequent court hearing the intimidation charge was dropped, but a judge found enough evidence for the child abuse charges to stand.

For her part the midwife’s attorneys argued in court that no birth is without risks, and natural complications are what developed here. The state’s Midwives Association voiced support for their member, noting that it seemed unfair that the woman would face criminal charges for an adverse outcome in a birth. They elaborated that a system is in place to investigate potential negligence or unreasonable conduct. This system is embodied in the civil justice system, without need for criminal charges.

Illinois Birth Injury Lessons
What can this story tell us about the reality of birth injuries in our state? For one thing, it is yet another reminder of the fragility of the situation. There is no way around it, childbirth always comes with risks to both the mother and child. Sometimes accidents will arise that could not have been prevented. At other times the caregiver will make a mistake and cause harm.

In addition, this story should give pause to all families who do suffer complications during birth–whether at a hospital or via midwife. Unfortunately, when mistakes are made, the first instinct for many involved parties is not to admit responsibility and do whatever possible to make the situation right. Instead, many clam up and cover up–focusing on protecting themselves and not helping those hurt as a result of preventable errors.

It is not easy to reverse course and get those involved to be open and honest about what happened. In many cases it requires legal action and the advocacy of an attorney to get answers. The birth injury attorneys at our Chicago firm work with families across Illinois on these issues. When negligence is involved the civil justice system ensures those hurt receive redress for their losses.

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