"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" Edmund Burke, 18th century Philospher.

"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of it being right." Thomas Paine

"The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants." Albert Camus

"Choice is the essence of ethics: if there were no choice there would be no ethics, no good, no evil; good and evil have meaning only insofar as man is free to choose." Margaret Thatcher, March 14, 1977

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” ― Upton Sinclair

Explaining the Cause

I am a practicing obstetrician who is a strong supporter of patients rights to informed consent and refusal. I believe a patient has the right to choose her own path given true and not skewed informed consent. Following that tenet, just as a woman should be able to choose to have an elective c/section she should be able to choose not to have one, as well. The American system of hospital based obstetric practice has been eroding those choices for women for quite some time. Due to concerns of economics, expediency and fears of litigation women are being coerced to make choices that may not be in their best interest.

I have had a long relationship collaborating with midwives and find the midwifery model of care to be evidenced based and successful. I was well trained at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the mid 80's to perform breech deliveries, twin deliveries, operative vaginal deliveries and VBACs, and despite evidence supporting their continued value, hospitals are "banning" these options. Organized medicine is also doing its best to restrict the availability of access to midwives.

Home birthing is not for everyone but informed choice is. Medical ethics dictates that doctors have a responsibility and a fiduciary duty to their patients to provide true, not skewed, informed consent and to respect patient autonomy in decision making. Countries with the best outcomes in birthing have collaboration between doctors and midwives. This is not what has been happening in the hospitals of America. Its time for a change and the return of common sense.

The midwifery model of care supports pregnancy as a normal function of the female body and gives a legitimate and reasonable alternative to the over-medicalized model of birth that dominates our culture. Through this blog I hope to do my part to illuminate what is wrong with our maternity care system and what is right with it. I do not expect all to agree and that is OK. We must all understand that given honest data it is not always reasonable to expect two people to come to the same conclusion. Our differences should be respected.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How headlines are often deceiving!

In the April 2011 edition of the American Journal of OB/GYN Dr. Wax responds to many of his critics in the letters to the editor section. Hope you can find it at www.AJOG.org

My comments to this were part of a conversation I had with my colleague Nick Fogelson in South Carolina and were as follows:

So much to say but will summarize. Everyone has bias. I do feel comfortable, however, with Wax's contention that he had none when setting out to do his study. His last point, that most criticism comes from birth choice advocates, is a bit silly as not much criticism would be expected from hospital birth advocates in a paper that is not critical of hospital births. That Wax concludes there is an increased risk of neonatal mortality of 1 in 1,333 in home vs. hospital birthing does not seem worthy of all the hullabaloo. Most people would not consider this number to be a reason to or not to have a home birth. So, even if we were to accept his paper as flawless, is this number so substantial as to base an entire ACOG committee opinion on? Not being adept in statistics I cannot comment on the science of his calculations. But if we give Wax credit for being truthful we do have to put some credence in the knowledge and science of those authors of some of the papers he uses who disagree with him as well.
When a headline says a 2-3 fold increase in neonatal death it looks scary. When you see the increased risk is really less than 1 in 1000 its not so bad to many. when I counsel patients on interpreting statistics I often use the example of disease X. Say it has a frequency of 1:1,000,000 last year and this year there were 2 cases or 1:500.000. Both very small numbers. However, advocates for funding of research into disease X can say the rate doubled. Very misleading.
Do you agree that the increased risk is still very small and, if so, why do you think organized medicine is so vehemently against informed choice? The risk of c/section in hospitals surpasses 1 in 3 and yet does not draw close to this much finger pointing from ACOG.

I thought it very important to point out the manipulation of statistics by ACOG to make a point and another way to look at the numbers it deems so impressive in its argument against home birth. Lies, damn lies and statistics! Dr. F

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