A new voice on patient safety in maternity care
I’ll be the first to admit—I feel a fish out of water on this blog, and am still scratching my head wondering what Amy and I must have been smoking when she invited me, and I agreed, to join Science and Sensibility as a blog contributor.
I’m not a midwife and, aside from Amy, have never met one. I’m not an obstetrician. I’ve never been to a Lamaze class. All three of my children were born in a tertiary care hospital. Doulas were discouraged by my ACOG-certified, impressively credentialed, upper middle class suburban obstetrician group that authoritatively practiced “active management of labor,” so I didn’t even bother considering one. I did have one “natural” childbirth, but not by choice (more on that later!). I was the kind of woman who, in labor with my second child and still smarting from memories of the birth of my first, loudly and repeatedly demanded an epidural from the minute I lumbered through the doors of the hospital until the minute the needle went in my back. I confess to eyeing adherents of groups like Lamaze, Bradley, and La Leche League askance as anti-establishment militant hippies—while secretly clutching my dog-eared copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and desperately stuffing cabbage leaves down my shirt during my daughter’s first painful weeks of nursing.
And then the house of cards on my perfectly controlled life all came down with the birth of my third child on October 1, 2005. A series of medical errors occurred, snowballing into a catastrophe that nearly cost my son and me our lives. I recently published a narrative in the online medical journal, Pulse recounting my birth experience and the frustrating search for answers from my doctors and the hospital afterwards . This personally traumatic event opened my eyes to the tragic shortcomings of our health care system, maternity care in particular, in a way that four years of medical school, three years of a pediatric residency, and six years in private practice as a pediatrician never did.
In the coming months, I will be blogging about issues of patient safety, patient-centered care, medical errors, and support for clinicians, patients, and families in the aftermath of an unexpected adverse medical outcome. I will speak from the viewpoint of a pediatrician and a patient who has been on both sides of the table. I don’t know all the answers, but I hope to provide some useful information and generate your thought-provoking feedback. Your comments and suggestions for future topics are most welcome.
Joking aside, thank you Amy for welcoming me on board to Science and Sensibility, and I look forward to working with you and your readers to create a safer, healthier, and more compassionate health care system for all our moms and babies.