Central Otago midwife Jan Scherp was yesterday cleared of
allegations of misconduct by the Health Practitioners
Disciplinary Tribunal following a three-day hearing in
An application for permanent name suppression for Ms Scherp
was denied by the tribunal, comprising deputy chairman David
Carden, a lawyer, midwives Jane Stojanovic, of Otaki, Sandy
Grey, of Auckland, and Dr Cheryl Benn, of Palmerston North,
and lay member Jane Huria, of Christchurch.
Ms Scherp, of Sage Femme Midwives, faced the charge under the
Health Practitioners' Competence Assurance Act 2003 in
relation to her care of Queenstown woman Sara Gutzewitz and
her son, Francis (Frankie), between January 20, 2010, and
February 7, 2010.
During the last stages of Ms Gutzewitz's labour on February
7, Ms Scherp said she suffered an ''unusually severe
episode'' of supraventricular tachy-cardia (SVT), which made
her heart rate increase rapidly and caused her to feel faint.
She said she had called core midwife Valerie Drake to assist
her with an episiotomy, before asking Ms Drake to remain in
the birthing room immediately following Frankie's birth.
Ms Drake denied being present at the birth and also denied
being asked to stay in the room with the family.
The particulars of the charge were a failure to communicate
her condition to other midwives, clinical staff or the
Gutzewitz family; a failure to adequately communicate to
staff and the Gutzewitz family that she felt unwell, thereby
potentially compromising the relationship with Ms Gutzewitz
and the care she provided; left the birthing room without
first ensuring adequate midwifery and/or medical care for Ms
Gutzewitz and her son; and, after leaving the room, did not
immediately ensure adequate care for her clients.
Mr Carden said the tribunal ''prefers the version that the
secondary midwife [Ms Drake] was present'' at the time of
Frankie's birth and when Ms Scherp left the room.
''It may not have been noticed by Ms Gutzewitz or [Ms
Gutzewitz's mother]. They had their own issues to deal with
and there was ongoing, evolving circumstances ...''
The tribunal found Ms Drake did leave the room at some stage
after Ms Scherp, but the family was only left alone for a
short time, and when Ms Scherp left the birthing room she had
''taken steps to ensure midwifery and medical care and that
It also found there was ''not a necessity'' for her to have
disclosed information about her SVT at that time and, given
there was not an obligation to do so, ''there was also not a
Mr Carden said while Ms Scherp ''could have communicated her
condition better at the time'', asking Ms Drake to remain in
the room was ''adequate communication''.
The tribunal found Ms Scherp had exhibited a ''measure of
self control, or silence'' in not informing the family of her
condition - had she done so, there was the potential to
''aggravate'' the already stressful situation.
Anita Miller, counsel for Ms Scherp, sought for the tribunal
to give leave to allow an opportunity to investigate if an
order for costs against the Director of Proceedings could be
Mr Carden granted the application, with any application to be
made before 4pm on March 4.
The Otago Daily Times understands under the Health
Practitioners Competence Assurance Act the tribunal's formal
written decision, once released, can be appealed by the
Director of Proceeding.