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Coroner criticises midwife for texting
Coroner criticises midwife for texting

A coroner has criticised a midwife for texting a heavily pregnant woman to assess her condition a day before her baby died following an emergency caesarean.

Hastings coroner Christopher Devonport is also critical of delays and wrong diagnosis once the mother was in Hawke's Bay Hospital, with a registrar putting off assessment until she'd finished her lunch.

The woman texted the midwife early one morning in June last year saying she had a loss of bloody fluid. The unnamed midwife replied saying she should contact her again if she had further bleeding.

Following more texting, the midwife visited the woman at home and, after further heavy bleeding and a second opinion from a colleague, the woman was taken to hospital.

Because no urgency had been conveyed to her by the midwife, the obstetrician and gynaecologist (O&G) registrar said she would assess the woman once she had finished her lunch.

When she made her assessment, she incorrectly interpreted an abnormal heart rate reading.

Mr Devonport said that led to delay in completing the emergency caesarean, which may have saved the baby's life.

The baby boy was born with no obvious heartbeat and not breathing. He died of asphyxia nearly 12 hours later.

"Text messaging appears inappropriate as a means of completing a clinical assessment," Mr Devonport said.

A text message was appropriate to make contact, but it should have been followed up with a phone call, he said.

Midwifery Council registrar Sharron Cole told NZ Newswire the midwife was not providing maternity care. She had not applied for a practising certificate for this year.

"As far as I'm aware she intends to apply for a certificate when she is ready to return to practice."

Philip Moore, a clinical director at Hawke's Bay District Health Board, said a thorough review resulted in further training for the midwife and registrar.

Text messaging had been ruled out as a means of communication between maternity carers and any disagreements between lead maternity carers and the O&G registrar will be referred to a consultant.

The registrar criticised by the coroner no longer works at the DHB, he said.