New Zealand Baby Dies During Birth Due to Lack of Oxygen; Midwife Forgot to Bring Medical Equipment

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A newborn baby waits for attention at Lima's maternity hospital, May 8, 2014.
A newborn baby waits for attention at Lima's maternity hospital, May 8, 2014. REUTERS/ Mariana Bazo REUTERS/ Mariana Bazo

A baby has died in New Zealand due to the failure of midwives in providing appropriate care during the birth. In a report by the Health and Disability Commissioner, a young woman was pregnant with her first child and wanted to give birth to her baby girl at home.  

The mother chose the services of a registered community midwife to care for her when she gives birth. The community midwife had a backup midwife to assist her.

On the day the woman was going through labour, the midwife arrived together with her two backup midwives. The report said the baby was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. The midwife did not bring an oxygen cylinder while the second midwife forgot to bring her home birth equipment.

Reports said the midwives' attempt to resuscitate the baby which showed little signs of improvement. An ambulance was called and emergency responders gave the baby advanced resuscitation. She was then airlifted to a neonatal intensive care unit.

The baby was evaluated at the neonatal intensive care unit, but she did not survive. A postmortem revealed the baby had died from lack of oxygen.

The health commissioner's report stated the midwife had failed to monitor while she was in labour with "reasonable care and skill." It was the midwife's responsibility to bring home birth equipment, including oxygen. The midwife's actions were described as "concerning and unprofessional."

Upon evaluation, the backup midwife had failed to complete the antenatal growth chart.

The commissioner found the midwife to have violated the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights for her failure. All three midwives were asked to make written apologies to the mother.  

In the report, the commissioner stressed the importance of midwives behaving in a professional and objective manner while being caring towards their patients at the same time.

The midwife who was supposed to be the woman's maternity carer was advised to take undergo more training on informed consent, recordkeeping and observing professional boundaries. She will also be subjected to a standards review under the New Zealand College of Midwives. 

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