A midwife who made a catalogue of errors that led to the
death of a newborn baby - and almost claimed the life of his
mother - has apologised for the first time.
Jennifer Rowan could face disciplinary proceedings for her
care of Linda Barlow in October 2009, which ended in the
death of baby Adam Barlow, after an investigation by Health
and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill found her care was
"a major departure from the accepted standard".
Mr Hill referred the case to his director of proceedings, who
will decide whether to lay charges with the Health
Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, where the most serious
penalty is deregistration.
The report, released yesterday, made several recommendations
including that Ms Rowan - who has a current practising
certificate under the name Jennifer Campbell - apologise to
Mrs Barlow and her husband, Robert.
The Barlows have a 7-year-old son, Orry, and another son,
Flynn, who turns 2 in May and was born through a surrogate
mother and in vitro fertilisation.
Mrs Barlow told the Herald the couple received the written
apology yesterday, more than four years after Adam died, but
said it was too personal to comment on.
However she said they hoped proceedings against Ms Rowan
would go ahead to ensure the mistakes were never repeated.
"We've gone through this for 4 years to find answers," Mrs
Barlow said. "We want the maternity system, the midwifery
system and families to all learn from what happened to me,
Adam and our family and that systems are put in place to
improve maternity services so that it's much safer for people
in New Zealand."
Waikato District Health Board has also apologised after the
Waikato Hospital obstetric registrar was criticised for
failing to adequately assess Mrs Barlow and for instigating
an inappropriate treatment plan.
Mr Hill also found Mrs Barlow received poor midwifery care
from the public hospital midwives.
The Barlows called the horrific labour and their son's death
a harrowing and preventable experience.
They 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.
Mr Hill found eight failures by Ms Rowan including that she
ignored River Ridge birthing centre policies requiring
specific heart monitoring of the patient before and after
administering the controlled drug pethidine.
She sent Mrs Barlow home without further assessment and
against her wishes and failed to adequately monitor the fetal
heart rate or transfer Mrs Barlow to hospital in time. When
Mrs Barlow arrived at Waikato Hospital she suffered a
ruptured uterus and stopped breathing after having an
epidural. She had an emergency caesarean but was bleeding
profusely internally and had to have an emergency
Then 31, Mrs Barlow suffered a heart attack on the operating
table before being taken to intensive care on life support,
not knowing that her little boy had died.
Health Waikato chief operating officer Jan Adams said the DHB
had already made several changes because of the case.
Ms Rowan did not return Herald calls.
- By Natalie Akoorie of the NZ Herald