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Debate surrounds brain injury lawsuit filed against midwife

The decision to bring a child into the world at home is one made by prospective parents in Texas and across the nation. A recently filed lawsuit alleges that a midwife hired to assist in a home birth made errors that led to a serious brain injury to the infant. The case has many debating the safety of home births, and calling for changes in the way that midwives are regulated.

In many cases, families choose to use the services of a midwife to supervise the birth, and rely on those practitioners to monitor the safety of both mother and child. Part of that process involves knowing when either party is in medical distress, and when it is time to call for emergency assistance or head to a hospital. In this case, the couple asserts that the midwife failed to adequately monitor the process because she did not have access to a fetal heart monitor.

As a result, the midwife was unaware that the infant was experiencing respiratory distress during the birth process. This allegedly led to a severe brain injury that has left the child with lingering developmental issues. At two years of age, he is still unable to walk or sit up unassisted.

Within their suit, the parents are asking for damages to cover the cost of their son's continuing medical care needs. They also hope that the outcome of their case will lead to better regulation and oversight of the practice of midwifery in the state in which they reside. Parents in Texas and across the nation should read this brain injury case as a cautionary tale, and ensure that any individual chosen to supervise the birth of a child is properly trained to do so, and able to access emergency medical intervention is that need arises.

Source: Hawaii News Now, "Suit alleges midwife malpractice," Rick Daysog, March 26, 2013

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