Supporting Families, Preventing Tragedies




Friday, 11 July 2003

Tom was our first baby and my 69 year old Mother, a former midwife, pushed very strongly for us to use an Obstetrician. Advice which I declined, having misplaced faith in our system. The midwife we were assigned, had 3 years experience, and had been recommended by an experienced midwife my mother had spoken with.

All through the pregnancy, things progressed normally, and our midwife decided to bring my wife in for inducement one week after due date. My Mother came with us to the hospital. The midwife applied two applications of the prostaglandin, and I remember my Mother questioning this stating that in her day it was notoriously volatile. The midwife responded matter-of-fact saying it still was. She then set up a heart monitor and left the room saying “see you tomorrow”.

Within a few minutes, the beeping of the monitor slowed dramatically. My Mother jumped up and said, “that’s not right!” and ran out of the room. She re-appeared a few minutes later virtually dragging the midwife. The midwife then spent some minutes trying to reposition the monitor. When this failed to reacquire Tom’s heart beat she left the room and reappeared a couple of minutes later with a Senior Nurse who went through the same process. She then hit the emergency button. Unfortunately the Registrar was in Surgery and the House Surgeon who was available, was not allowed to approve an emergency c-section. After some brisk discussions, they decided that they would prepare my wife for an emergency caesarean which they did. Probably within 10 minutes the Registrar appeared to approve the surgery, he was still in the middle of an operation, and went straight back to Theatre with my Wife having to wait until he was available.

Now we were very lucky! A private Obstetrician, whom my Mother knew from many years before, was visiting a patient. He immediately agreed to do the surgery and my wife was taken straight down to theatre. As they entered the lift we heard him telling the midwife that she should not have been applying Prostaglandin without a registrar available.

Tom was born via emergency c-section. His Apgar Scores were deemed OK, however he had trouble feeding, and my wife stayed in Hospital for 7 days with him, much to the annoyance of some of the nursing staff who told us we were taking up space for other people.

He had low muscle tone from the beginning, and the development level between him and other children widened as time went on, being our first born, we didn’t realise it. At 18 months we saw a private Paediatrician and at 3 years Tom was recognised as Special Needs by the Ministry of Education. Tom is now almost 6 years old and attends a Special School. He is a lovely and caring boy, but has Global Developmental Delay, with a speaking and comprehension level of a 2 ½ to 3 year old. The first 5 years has been a struggle, first for a diagnosis, then for therapy. Acceptance is an ongoing battle, and although we now accept Tom’s condition ourselves (no longer in denial), our circle of friends has shrunk considerably.


Red Flags

        RED FLAGS

  • Lack of monitoring
  • “Normalising” the abnormal
  • Lack of action/delay in getting emergency care
  • Going over due date
  • Failure to progress in labour
  • Meconium-stained liquor (waters)
  • Lengthy handover during emergency
  • Inconsistent reporting and documentation
  • Your concerns being ignored

    Click here to read more about common warning signs

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