Robert and Linda Barlow with their son Orry in 2012. Photo
/ Christine Cornege
Care by a midwife that led to the death of a newborn baby
and almost claimed the life of his mother was a "major
departure from the accepted standard of care", a report has
The Health and Disability Commissioner's report, released
this afternoon, has come more than four years after baby Adam
Barlow died in October 2009 and his mother Linda Barlow was
left with debilitating injuries following a horrific labour
that former Hamilton midwife Jennifer Rowan was in charge of.
It follows an investigation into the case by Health and
Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill after Mrs Barlow and her
husband Robert laid a complaint last year.
It has referred the case to the Director of Proceedings to
determine whether any proceedings should be taken against Ms
Rowan, who still has a current practising certificate with no
conditions under the name Jen Campbell.
The report is also critical of the Waikato District Health
Board obstetrician who oversaw the end of Mrs Barlow's labour
at Waikato Hospital, saying they did not adequately assess
It goes on to say that Mrs Barlow also received poor
midwifery care from hospital midwives.
Adam was declared stillborn, but a coronial inquest was
ordered after his parents read medical notes indicating their
son had shown signs of life.
The Barlows blamed the inexperience of Ms Rowan, who had been
a midwife for seven months at the time, as a major factor in
their son's death.
Coroner Gordon Matenga said after the inquest in May 2012
that baby Adam's death by intrapartum asphyxia was brought on
by several factors including Ms Rowan's failure to recognise
that Mrs Barlow's labour was not normal.
He also found Ms Rowan did not convey any urgency, verbally
or in writing to Waikato Hospital staff when they arrived via
Mrs Barlow suffered a ruptured uterus and stopped breathing
after being given an epidural.
She had an emergency caesarean but was bleeding profusely
internally and had to have an emergency hysterectomy.
She suffered a heart attack on the operating table and needed
cardiac massage for six minutes before being taken to
intensive care on life support, not knowing that her little
boy had died.
As a result of what happened Mrs Barlow was unable to have
any more children herself but the Barlows had a baby boy
almost two years ago through in vitro fertilisation and using
a surrogate mother.
In a statement, the Barlows said: "Our family, including our
little boy Adam, experienced and suffered through a
frightening and torturous labour on October 25, 2009 that
left Linda on life support and resulted in the preventable
and devastating death of our much loved son.
"Since that harrowing experience we have continued to seek
answers for Adam's untimely death, and Linda's injuries, in
the hope of preventing similar outcomes for future parents
and their babies."
They thanked the Health & Disability Commissioner for his
investigation and findings, which they said were fair and the
outcomes proportionate to the areas of the maternity system
that let them down the most.
"We suffered a shocking lack of basic midwifery care with a
lack of humanity on October 25, 2009 by a self employed new
graduate LMC midwife in the community."
They challenged Health Minister Tony Ryall and all health
professionals - particularly the midwifery sector - to accept
the findings, to learn from them and put into place a far
safer environment for all future mothers, fathers, babies and
midwives in New Zealand.