Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Questionable Care...What Should I do?

This post is intended to be a guide and resource for any mother in Michigan who has questions about the care she received or the outcome of her birth experience in an out-of-hospital setting.  (Some of it may apply for adverse hospital care as well.)  These are resources we had to find along the way.  There was no one place or person we could go to who could guide us through this process and I'm hoping to alleviate some of that searching for our readers.  If you, or someone you know received questionable care or has suffered an adverse outcome in an out-of-hospital birth, here are some suggestions:  

1) Write down your entire recollection of your labor and delivery.  Ask your husband to do the same, but to write his separately because your recollections will vary slightly. 

2) Contact a civil attorney who handles medical malpractice and personal injury for a consultation.  This doesn't mean you're committing to any particular action, it just means you can share your story and hear whether or not you have grounds to be concerned about the care you received.    

We only know our own experience and based on that would recommend Brian McKeen of McKeen and Associates in Detroit, MI.  He has handled numerous cases that have to do with out-of-hospital as well as in hospital births.  We found him to be honest, realistic, and truly working for the improvement of maternity care in our state.    

3) Ask for a copy of all of your records (midwife or birth center, ambulance, hospital, etc.)

4) Find other midwives, obstetricians, and other families to share your experience and ask questions.

If you're wondering where to find families who have experienced adverse outcomes in out-of-hospital birth, please contact us.  We can connect you with those resources.

5) If your birth experience had a particular complication, research it and ask other professionals how that particular complication should be managed. 

If you suspect errors were made:

1) File a complaint with NARM if your midwife is a CPM.  

If you'd like to know more about their procedures or our experiences with NARM, please click on the link above.

2) File an allegation with the State of Michigan if your midwife is a CNM.

This allegation can mean that any aspect of your care was concerning and should be addressed to improve care.  Your baby doesn't have to be injured or worse to file a complaint.  You'll be filing your allegation within the Bureau of Health Professions which is part of the larger Licensing and Regulatory Affairs for the State of Michigan.  Director Rae Ramsdell is familiar with allegations having to do with out-of-hospital birth if you should have questions. 

3) Ask the police (in the township where the birth took place) to conduct an investigation to evaluate whether or not criminal charges are warranted. 

Even if you don't press charges or have the opportunity to do so, at the very least the county prosecutor will recognize a trend in problematic out-of-hospital birth and encourage their lobbyist to advocate for regulation.  If they don't know there is a problem they can't work to fix it.  

4) Write a letter about your concerns and the care you received to Olga Dazzo, Director of the Department of Community Health for the State of Michigan.  They too cannot protect the people to the best of their ability if they don't know about concerning practices.   

5) Write a letter to your legislator to share your concerns and to Senator Gretchen Whitmer who is currently drafting legislation to address these issues on behalf of Michigan families. 

You can visit our "Take Action" tab for examples of letters to Olga Dazzo, Senator Gretchen Whitmer, and others.  

**A note about guilt:  Asking questions to better understand your experience doesn't mean you have to take any sort of action, and isn't something you should feel guilty about.  This process begins with questioning and understanding.  What to do with that understanding will be clear to you as you gather more information.  If you hired a midwife, you paid someone to attend your birth and keep you and your baby as safe as possible.  If that did not happen, you have every right to question the events that took place.  Please use the "contact" tab if you have any questions. 

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