Friday, March 21, 2008

Troubled Birthing Times in California

California has had a rash of troubled times in the childbirth arena as of late. The California State Department of Public Health assessed the following hospitals administrative penalties for potentially life-threatening violations that occurred in 2007:

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Los Angeles): $25,000

Enloe Medical Center (Chico): $25,000

Kern Medical center (Bakersfield): $25,000

Kindred Hospital Modesto (Modesto): $75,000 (3 violations)

Natividad Medical Center (Salinas): $25,000

Scripps Memorial Hospital (La Jolla, San Diego County): $25,000

Sierra Vista Hospital (Sacramento): $25,000

Universal Health Services of Rancho Springs (Murietta, Riverside County): $25,000

UC San Francisco Medical Center (San Francisco): $25,000

ValleyCare Medical Center (Pleasanton): $25,000

Washington Hospital (Fremont): $25,000

This is the second time California has fined hospitals as part of a law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2007. The law allows the state to assess penalties against hospitals in cases of "immediate jeopardy," or for violations likely to cause death or serious injury.

Besides all being located in California, another thread links these hospital fines together: in each case, the hospitals were cited for medication errors. In several cases, the patients in question died.

This is yet another reason to consider a homebirth. Tired, overworked staff put you at risk of medical mistakes. When you choose the hospital ticket, you get the hospital ride, including the increased risk of interventions and medical errors.

Do errors happen in homebirths? Yes, of course. To insinuate otherwise would be ridiculous.

However, no IV or epidural access at a homebirth protects you from these types of risks which are rampant in hospitals.

It is possible to limit your risks of medication errors in a hospital by refusing an IV. Be warned, though, that most care providers are not supportive of this. The majority will push for a heplock or saline lock at minimum, for no other reason than liability. In this age of CYA medicine due to an increasingly litigious society, I can almost sympathize with them.

But only almost. When you consider that the lack of evidence-based care is the precipitating factor to the majority of childbirth complications, they've truly made their own bed.

Unfortunately, they expect pregnant women to lie in it - flat on their backs, of course.


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