Friday, January 1, 2010

C'mon folks... Let's 'fess up

Blogging sisters and kind readers, please feel free to correct me if I've gotten anything wrong here...


... Has anyone else out there been as intensely bothered by the Miracle Mom story as I have?

Story recap: Mom in labor at hospital is getting epidural, suddenly codes and loses all vital signs (blood pressure, etc.), doctor does emergency crash cesarean to save baby, which is also lifeless; however, baby is revived and the mother also miraculously revives.

First of all, Praise the Lord that this story ended happily - it was very nearly a double tragedy, and instead has a wonderful ending. No problems with that!

But I have been intensely bothered by what has been left OUT of the media coverage on this story - completely ignored - and that is the fact that the entire emergency and near-tragedy was most likely caused by the epidural administration.

One cannot, of course (without more information) say that the epidural was definitely the causative factor - there's always the rare coincidence. But healthy, low-risk laboring women do not generally go into cardiac arrest! (Again, there's always a rare chance. Not discounting that). But the only outside factor (that we know of) was the epidural... and epidurals have the rare side effect of "death."

After all, if you give a man a shot of something and 30 seconds later he keels over dead.... well, there's a good chance that the shot killed him! And if you give a healthy, laboring mother an epidural and during the administration she codes, well, the connection is there.

But the media has completely ignored the "why." They're not postulating anything else, just completely ignoring the "why" altogether and focusing on the miracle of the double-revival.

And really, this is not to bad-mouth epidurals. Like all drugs, they have their uses (though the epidural is greatly over-used). However, there are possible side-effects, and one of those rare side-effects is death. Women deserve to know that, and the public deserves to receive honest reporting in a near-tragedy like this. It would not need to be sensational: "Epidural Kills Two! Thousands Flee in Horror!" Etc. etc. etc. Something along the lines of, "Although the cause of the woman's arrest is not known, it is known that one rare side-effect of epidural anesthesia is death/cardiac arrest, and that possibility is being considered by medical staff."

(Not being a nurse or doctor or midwife, I am not up on all of the factors that could cause a laboring woman to go into cardiac arrest. One of the only other possibilities I know of is Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE). However, since that has not been mentioned in any article that I have seen, I would gather that that has been ruled out.)

You can follow some of the thought on this issue by reading the article and comments on the story over at Reality Rounds.

So, to close: It cannot (without more data) be said that the epidural caused all of this. But it is a definite, and a likely, possibility. All that I am requesting is honesty in reporting - not a blatant cover-up that is so big that it amounts to dishonesty.

Comments, anyone? I don't want to be over the edge with this. It's just been eating on me all week, so I thought I'd share thoughts. I'd be glad to amend this article if I have written anything inaccurate or unreasonable.

Oh, and another BIG thing.... Homebirth detractors are fond of saying "if an emergency happens at home, you can't get in to the hospital fast enough to take care of it" or "that baby would have died if he had been born at home." Occasionally (though rarely) that can be true. But guess what? This is a baby and a mother who nearly died, and most likely because of techniques used only in hospital birth. If the epidural truly was responsible, this tragedy would not have happened in a homebirth. Like babies and mothers who have died because of Cytotec inductions, this story shows that it goes both ways - there are risks at home that hospital mothers don't have (such as distance from emergency facilites), but there are also risks in-hospital that homebirth mothers don't have (the inappropriate use of interventions which can lead to problems and occasionally deaths).

Interesting stuff.

* Later note: You can see what Henci Goer has to say about this event here - good stuff.


  1. It's odd to me too that no one seems to be looking into why this even happened.
    I think that a lot of people just look at the outcome, and as long as it seems "good" to them, they don't really care about anything else. And with so many women getting routine epidurals, no one would want to jump to the conclusion that having one could be dangerous. It sounds like denial to me.


    And I commented on the Henci post, too.
    Drives me bonkers.

  3. Here's the thing:

    I am CERTAIN Mom and Dad have hired attorneys, and I am CERTAIN the suit will be settled out of court, like 99.9% of all OB malpractice cases. And I am CERTAIN there will be a gag order in the settlement, so I am CERTAIN neither you nor I nor any OB will ever learn anything from this near tragedy.
    It is despicable, the OB system in America.



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