An inappropriate advice by a midwife to a pregnant woman about her unborn baby led to the birth of a stillborn baby boy in New Zealand.
A pregnant woman, who was to undergo induced labor after a day, called the midwife to inform that her baby had not moved the previous day or that morning. Since the main doctor was out of town, the midwife was only a backup. The midwife's advice to her was to go back to sleep, have an early breakfast in the morning and call her if she did not feel the movement for more than a day. The same day, the woman called back, saying she did not feel her baby move and expressed her desire to go to the hospital for a checkup. Later in the day, an on-call obstetric consultant checked to find that the baby had already died inside the womb. The advice by the midwife was especially wrong since the baby was overdue and there had been concerns about the baby's growth rate, right from the stage of conception.
Speaking about the incident that occurred in 2011, Anthony Hill, Health and Disability commissioner said, "The back-up midwife advised to go back to bed, to have an early breakfast in the morning, and to call her back afterwards if she still had not felt the baby move.'' Hill further added that the midwife told the pregnant woman that "sometimes they will move after something sweet.''
The 34-year-old woman, who gave birth to a stillborn baby boy due to the midwife's negligence, said that the incident had "immense" impact on her and her family. The midwife, on her part, apologised profusely to the woman and told the commissioner, ''It is quite out of character for me not to respond immediately to a woman in such circumstances and this has never happened before in my career.''. She explained that since she was woken up from deep sleep, she was not in a position to give the correct advice. However, she accepted her folly and added, "this is no excuse.''
Referring to the care provided to the pregnant woman as a breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights and "severe departure from expected standards," Hill said that the midwife has been referred to the Director of Proceedings for consideration of legal action if required.