Winter ABC 2021 : Day 7
This advocacy week has been an emotional rollercoaster. It took this challenge to realize that I am a quite the advocate for a lot of movements that orbit around human rights. Today’s topic is close to the heart because I have personally suffered from medical negligence during pregnancy. I almost died and lost my baby. I wrote about this story some time ago and a number of women came forward with similar experiences. Some sadly never lived to tell their story.
When I lost my baby in 2014, I was beyond traumatized, there aren’t enough words to describe the devastation and injustice that I went through. Medical malpractice is a common thing in public hospitals. What is pregnancy negligence? It is when a pregnant woman receives ante and post neonatal care that is below acceptable standards. The fact that pregnancy is a life-threatening condition, extra and cautious care should be practiced to preserve the life of mother and baby. It is a human right to receive and access adequate medical attention.
A greater populace of Zimbabwean midwives are a disgrace to the honor of midwifery. The claims of midwife negligence are too many, from ignoring the signs of high-risk pregnancies, such as mothers with gestational diabetes, maternal infection and high blood pressure. Cases like these need diligent monitoring. These conditions are likely to cause still births and miscarriages. There is a culture of undermining and disregarding pregnant women in labor. Women giving birth alone without assistance in hospital corridors and in waiting foyers. Risking birth injuries such as:
- Fracturing baby’s bones
- Intrauterine fetal demise
- Failure to identify or delayed intervention for a baby in distress
- Cerebral palsy caused lack of oxygen in baby’s brain
- Mismanaged pre-eclampsia
- Poor Performance of an episiotomy
- Third and fourth-degree perineal tears
It is a crime to cause preventable harm to a mother and newborn during pregnancy and childbirth. These mistakes can cause lifelong hardships and death. Medical professionals are expected to act with a certain promptness and efficiency. Failing to act quickly during an emergency is also considered as medical negligence.
There should be some sort of financial compensation for claims of medical negligence, to hold medical professionals accountable. The lack of consequences is the reason these atrocities continue to happen. Medical practice certificates should be cancelled and jail term an applicable option. Although many birth injuries heal within weeks the emotional trauma can be permanent.
The rate of maternal deaths should be investigated especially those with underlying problems aggravated by pregnancy are usually a result of medical negligence. There are certain protocols and intensive care for pregnant women with other health issues and can prevent maternal mortality. There are factors that contribute to the poor health care for pregnant women such as inadequate, underequipped and understaffed hospitals. The government of every country should ensure standard and accessible healthcare to its citizens. Maternal Death Surveillance and Response should be put in place to curb the unnecessary loss of life. Women need better pre- and post-natal care, fast access to blood transfusions and public health programs to spread vital information on pregnancy to the community.
The nurse’s oath says:
“I solemnly pledge myself before God in the presence of this assembly:
To pass life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully.
I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.
I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in this practice of my profession.
With loyalty I will endeavor to aid the physician in his work and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care. “
They made an oath and are expected to adhere to it. This is a profession of care giving and compassion. The calling is to save and preserve life. Pregnant women deserve better holistic care, support and kindness.