The big buzz in the birthing community is the latest controversy over Dr. Robert Biter losing his hospital privileges in San Diego, California. But before him, there were others.
Back in 2005, Dr. Colleen Murphy of Anchorage, Alaska came under fire for her low c-section rates, which resulted, ultimately, in a three-year suspension of her medical license. Hospital privileges were also suspended at an Anchorage hospital, and a second hospital - Providence Alaska Medical Center - also revoked her privileges as well, although they reinstated her - and her license - several months later, along with an apology.
Apparently doctors at Alaska Regional Hospital felt she was putting 'patients at risk' by "allowing" women to experience a trial of labor after one or more cesareans. The license suspension was based on ten births attended in 2004, five of which, they claimed, she "failed to meet the minimum standard of care."
I'm curious what the 'minimum standard of care' is. A Pitocin drip for every patient, regardless of need? Premature rupture of membranes for no reason? And it seems that Dr. Murphy was only operating on ACOG Guidelines, that suggest a TOL for most VBAC patients is safer than a repeat cesarean. Obviously those "guidelines" are not followed very much, and were completely ignored in this case.
In the same year, Wilmington, NC OB Helen Sandland packed her bags and left New Haven Regional Medical Center after hospital administrators told her to "do more c-sections."
Dr. Sandland wrote in her resignation letter to the hospital: "I leave NHRMC with my morals and backbone absolutely uncorrupted." Thank God!
Still think your doctor always does what's in your best interests?
Both of these doctors are still practicing. Dr. Biter probably will, too, even if it means that patients will have to drive hours to get to him or make other crazy arrangements in order to have their babies delivered by him. All of them have patients with nothing but good things to say about their quality of care, yet the hospital doesn't care about that. In all its findings, I wonder if the committee in charge of suspending Dr. Murphy's license ever asked her patients what they thought about their care. If they ever looked at the outcomes of her patients - and their babies - not only in the short term, but in the long term as well. I find it scary that hospitals will basically admit that making money is their bottom line, even if it means doing something totally unnecessary to patients. It's alarming that all the way across the board - outside of the field of obstetrics, even - that "more is better" when it comes to patient care. No one seems to realize or want to admit that they're being used. You already feel like a cow when you're nine months pregnant; now you're being treated like one - a cash cow - by your doctor and the hospital.
Thank goodness there are still a few doctors left who see their patients as people - not just objects or slabs of meat to be dissected up for profit.
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