It’s been nearly two weeks since Dr. Henry Dorn informed the certified nurse midwives for whom he was providing physician back-up that he could no longer do so. When I wrote about this issue before, I said I didn’t know all the factors — and I still don’t.
I’ve heard that this was “in the works” for months between Dr. Dorn and the North Carolina board of medicine — and yet all of the affected certified nurse midwives were SHOCKED by his announcement email. I speculate that he knew something was happening and didn’t share information with his CNMs until it was official. However, nothing “official” exists yet: according to the North Carolina board of medicine, Dr. Dorn has no sanctions from them; he’s never even had a patient complain on record.
However, they cannot comment on pending complaints or investigations.
Just after Dr. Dorn’s announcement, I saw an email from the North Carolina board of medicine, sent to physicians, asking them to contact the NCBOM with evidence of adverse outcomes from homebirths — but only if it’s public record; no HIPAA violations, kthnxbai! (Note: I saw a picture of the email on Facebook, through a friend-of-a-friend, and I’ve searched in vain for it, but can’t find it right now.)
I haven’t heard of any particular incident that preceded Dr. Dorn’s decision and subsequent notice to the certified nurse midwives he was supervising. He has not made any public statement.
Today I read an article which noted that the Certified Nurse Midwives were given a 75-day “grace period” to continue practicing. Under the proposed law — which isn’t law yet, but is being followed as if a law — certified nurse midwives have 45 days to continue practicing after suddenly losing a supervising physician, while they search “diligently” for a new physician, and then can file for a 30-day extension.
So, this is a small victory for the certified nurse midwives — and more importantly, THEIR CLIENTS — but the problem is that the certified nurse midwife interviewed for the article said that she’d appealed to four obstetricians and had been turned down by all due to malpractice concerns. And I don’t think she’s in the minority; I think most of the certified nurse midwives will have a difficult time finding physician backup because of concerns about litigation.
Thus I bang my head on my parents’ lovely granite kitchen table (I’m on vacation. I’m typing this from my mom’s MacBook Pro. I have no idea how to cut/copy/paste, nor insert photos. Sorry!) Usually, North Carolina is busy insisting that certified professional midwives aren’t competent enough to legally attend homebirths (unlike in South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, to name just a few of our fellow southern states where certified professional midwives are legally recognized and allowed to attend homebirths). Nobody debates that a certified nurse midwife is a skilled attendant for homebirths. And yet, because of something that may or may not have happened, within legislation that is decidedly NOT transparent — the law is not very easy to read nor interpret regarding physicians supervising nurse-midwives — a lot of pregnant women are without a provider come September.
These women may make up a small percentage of all the women who will have babies this year. But they matter. Their rights matter. They are not going to acquiesce on their home birth plans just because they are being strong-armed into a hospital birth — or being somewhat forced have a potentially-dangerous unassisted homebirth — just because their provider’s rights (and thus, their rights) are stripped. There must be a better way.
I hope to update again in the near future with more information.