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Monday, January 4, 2010

A Dangerous "Procedure" known as VBAC

I don't know what it is lately, but it seems like this is VBAC week on my blog. I was doing some reading and came across this video posted on pinkyrn's blog site about a VBAC gone horribly wrong. The video is a news broadcast from some California news station that was posted on YouTube by none other than a birth injury lawyer. 
Unfortunately, along with the hole in this woman's uterus, are tons of holes in the logic of this story. While I feel very badly for her - as uterine rupture is probably the worst nightmare of every laboring woman attempting a VBAC - I just can't wrap my head around this story. The woman is suing her insurance company - not her doctor - because they didn't warn her about the dangers of a VBAC. Apparently, the baby was deprived of oxygen for TWELVE FREAKING MINUTES (and that's the insurance company's fault?!) and, not surprisingly, suffered permanent brain damage. The laboring mom, to her credit, no doubt knew something was up and asked for an immediate c-section, to which her doctor apparently answered, "Shut up." What?!
I'm puzzled why, then, the doctor himself isn't being sued for malpractice. Where were medical staff during that 12 minutes? Hunting down an anesthesiologist to do a crash c/s? Going out for coffee? Who knows. I don't want to sound too critical, because a mother and child were severely injured in this incident. But unfortunately, because of the crappy reporting this news station did, and the nature of this whacked out lawsuit, it paints a horrible, although unrealistic, picture here. 
I'm also curious what part Pitocin played in this birth, since it can cause more painful, stronger contractions that can increase the risk of rupture in a laboring woman with a prior uterine scar. (In fact, they can happen even before labor begins, in a woman with a prior scar.) My own doctor tried to scare me with stories of rupture when I told him of my plan to VBAC, saying he'd had at least two patients experience a rupture. I then asked, "And did those women receive Pitocin while in labor?" He didn't have much to say in response and brushed off my question, saying he didn't remember. With all the births I'm sure his practice has attended, and so few of them resulting in rupture, you better believe he remembered. That's not something you very easily forget, I'm sure. 
I would like to know where this attorney is when countless women are basically forced into having unnecessary c-sections, for failed inductions their doctors know won't work; for suspected 'large' babies who end up being born hovering at around 6 pounds; for women who fail to progress because some overbearing doctor with the bedside manner of a goat has his fingers up your you-know-what while you're trying to relax and forget your surroundings and dilate enough to give birth, all while in a timeframe that suits his golf schedule. Where is this attorney then, representing all those women who are essentially coerced into giving birth according to how the doctor wants it done, instead of being allowed to let their bodies do what they were created to do?
Of course the sensationalist reporting of this news broadcast does nothing to further the cause, only cement in the minds of women within the viewing area that 'the procedure' is a dangerous one and is to be avoided at all costs. Never mind that c-sections can also result in traumatic damage to a woman's body, and babies can die as a result of bad sections, as well. 
Unfortunately this case leaves me with a lot of questions that will no doubt go unanswered, since I couldn't find any information on it. On Dr. (yes, doctor) Fagel's website, it doesn't mention a whit about what his prior experience was in the medical field, only that he graduated from the Illinois Medical College of Medicine (huh?) in 1972 and then received a law degree in 1982. Exactly how much medicine did he practice, then, in that ten-year period, what with going to law school during that time? My guess is not much.