Midwife who failed mothers, babies cannot practise

A midwife will not be practising again in New Zealand after two Queenstown babies were neglected in her care — one ultimately sustaining a brain injury.

A Human Rights Review Tribunal found Vicki Anne McMillan, now of Waiheke Island, breached five rights protected by the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers Rights during her care of the Queenstown mother in late 2015 and early 2016.

In a second decision made on the same day, it found three breaches during her care of another woman in Queenstown between late 2014 and 2015.

In the first case the tribunal found, and the midwife accepted, she failed the Queenstown woman and child on 15 counts.

These included leaving her for 1.5 hours while she was in the late first stages of labour, not having a plan in place for if the woman went over term, not informing her of the risks of a homebirth in Queenstown, not doing or recording the correct tests or keeping adequate clinical notes, not keeping the woman informed, not acting early enough on clear indicators the labour was not progressing normally and not handing all the woman’s notes or information to medical team delivering the baby in Invercargill.

The baby was born in January 2016 not breathing after a long and difficult labour.

It was resuscitated and subsequently diagnosed with encephalopathy, a brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation.

The mother has since experienced post-natal depression.

The midwife’s practising certificate was suspended in April 2016 on the grounds the tribunal’s concerns about the defendant’s competence were so serious they constituted reasonable grounds for believing that she posed a risk of serious harm to the public by practising below the required minimum standards of competence.

She has given an undertaking she will not seek to renew her annual practising certificate or to practise midwifery again in New Zealand and has provided a written apology to the aggrieved person.

The rights she failed to meet were to provide services to the woman with reasonable care and skill that complied with legal, professional, ethical, and other relevant standards.

She should also have ensured quality and continuity of services and provided the woman with an acceptable level of information.

The tribunal’s report was released late last month.

In a second case the woman’s baby was born on April 7, 2015, after a 12-hour labour.

About an hour later, the midwife decided the woman would need to be transferred to Dunedin Hospital for suturing for a perineal tear.

Early the next morning, an emergency department doctor at Lakes District Hospital told the mother her baby may have been starved of oxygen at birth and was having seizures.

The midwife accepted she failed the mother and child on 15 counts.

They included failing to use the recommended method of measuring the baby’s height, failing to discuss a possible transfer to another hospital, failing to recognise the labour was not progressing normally and that consultation with an obstetrician was warranted, sending the woman home for four hours while she was in active labour, failing to document discussions or recommendations with the woman during labour, failing to try recommended manoeuvres to help the delivery, failing to document post-delivery care to the mother, and failing to complete an adequate formal handover of care of the mother to Dunedin Hospital.

The mother has suffered from depression and incontinence issues since the birth.

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