Vickie Sorensen found guilty: a wake up call for Utah legislators

Vickie Sorensen was found guilty of Manslaughter after the jury deliberated for four hours. The spectrum has thankfully covered the trial in depth, including testimony that brought some new facts to light about the events that transpired. Some of the more shocking revelations:

Although Vickie Sorensen and her daughter Camille Wilcox were not adequately trained to deal with respiratory distress in newborns, someone at the birth WAS properly trained and willing to help: the grandmother of the deceased was a former NICU nurse. She was there and wanted to assist with CPR but the correct equipment was not usable so she could not help her grandchild. Sorensen didn’t have the correct size of equipment to use on newborns.

Thornton was in the waiting room of the birthing center when she heard a loud crash coming from the birthing suite, she recounted for the jury. When she went to investigate, Thornton found Sorensen putting drops into the mouth of the baby who was not breathing. She said she switched into nurse mode and asked Sorensen for a suction to remove excess fluids from the lungs to help the baby breathe, but the midwife handed her a device much too large for the preemie. She then asked for a bag valve mask to force oxygen into the baby’s lungs, but Thornton said Sorensen was allegedly unable to provide working equipment.

“I’ve always been able to save babies, but I couldn’t save my grandbaby,” Thornton said as she recounted feeling shocked as the paramedics took the child.”

 

The proper training is not always adequate if you lack the proper equipment, which is why hospitals and real birthing centers are heavily regulated to protect patients from missing or faulty equipment. This highlights something mind boggling about Utah laws. The birthing suites that direct entry midwives use are completely unregulated. There is no state oversight for infection control or proper equipment, which in this case could have saved this child’s life. The health department is not able to inspect or discipline direct entry midwives that run unsafe birthing suites. No one is making sure that babies are being born in safe or even simply hygienic circumstances.

Another shocker to me:

The investigation was not a standard practice in the home birth death of an infant, it happened because of a discrepancy in the death certificate. There is no standard that ensures investigation after a baby dies in a planned out of hospital birth.

“Cedar City Police Detective Mike Bleak said he didn’t begin looking into the infant’s death with the intent of launching a criminal investigation. Bleak, who also serves as an investigator for the state medical examiner, was asked to sort out a discrepancy in paperwork as the state had received a record of burial dated as Dec. 26 while the death certificate was dated as Dec. 27 — implying that an illegal burial had been conducted, Bleak explained.

With the parents still with the surviving child in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Dixie Regional Medical Center, Bleak met with Sorensen to determine what happened.”

Sorensen proceeded to act very suspiciously, which spurred on the criminal investigation. A more clever sort of liar may have been able to get away with it.

As I predicted, the testimony of the EMT who arrived on sight was damning. Her testimony states that sorensen lacked equipment, performed CPR with an incredibly outdated method, and didn’t tell EMTs that the mother was still carrying a 2nd baby (among other needed medical disclosures). 

Vickie Sorensen is one of the most experienced direct entry midwives in Utah with 30 years of experience. She came highly recommended by virtually everyone in the community. Yet when you read her testimony, it becomes clear that she had so many dangerous gaps in the needed knowledge for delivering babies safely. If you think you can protect yourself or your child by researching the “right” midwife, you are wrong. The problem is the direct entry midwife “credential” itself, its completely inadequate for delivering babies safely. Even the most highly trained direct entry midwives seem to lack so much basic education on health care practices.

The time line of this case is alarming as well.

The death happened in 2012.

The arrest was in 2014.

The trial happened in 2016.

Four years passed between the death and the trial, and in the interim Vickie Sorensen was fully supported as a practicing midwife by the Utah Midwife Organization (UMO). She raised 50,000$ for her bail from UMO/home birth community. For four years Sorensen was allowed to practice as a midwife legally, and with no sanctions from UMO. If your child is injured or killed by a negligent direct entry midwife, you may find yourself waiting years before anything can be done, because it has to reach the level of criminality to be punished. By contrast, physicians and nurse practitioners that behave negligently have to answer to licensing bodies that actually revoke licenses and discipline members, and they also have malpractice insurance to compensate those who were harmed or surviving family members. Direct entry midwives are against any measures that restrict practices or require insurance in the event of negligence.

The last thing people need to know is that vickie has never been remorseful about what happened.  She doesn’t understand what she did wrong. In fact, she denied that she apologized to the grandmother of the deceased for lacking proper equipment. You can see the shamelessness of her pride in her facebook posts about the trial as well.

Well, there it is. Our truth has finally been told. Vickie testified today, and she was brilliant, charismatic and engaging on the stand. As she gently explained to the jury the procedure for neonatal rescucitation, her knowledge and passion for mothers and babies was evident.

 

Vickie clearly believes she should still be delivering babies. There is nothing that can convince her that her beliefs about childbirth are not realistic, even witnessing death that happened directly as a result of it, or the other close calls that happened, and later losing her own grandchild, isn’t enough to inspire humility in her. It is terrifying, to be honest.

Today, the prosecution parades the last of their witnesses (as long as there aren’t any more delays!). We look forward to telling our side of the story tomorrow.

 

They are “parading” witnesses, such as the family that aches for the child that could have been safely born and alive right now, and the doctors and EMTs that knew that they were seeing a totally pointless tragedy unfold in front of them. This kind of attitude towards death and maiming seems to be the norm for lay midwives like Sorensen. If you are worried about future tragedies unfolding please contact your legislators to coordinate action on behalf of these children who cannot speak out for themselves.

Does your midwife have blood on her hands?

Utah Midwife Cristy Fiscer has not answered for her role in the death of baby Gavin Michael. These women are quacks.

Ex Natural Childbirth Advocates

Many home birth midwives have the nerve to crowd source their patient care decisions online, and in one known case a child died as a result. Gavin Michael died after Jan Tritten, editor of the trade magazine Midwifery Today (and a former midwife herself), helped another midwife (Christy Collins CPM) crowdsource a post dates baby with zero amniotic fluid.

The thread was captured online and saved to a word document, but its contents are not found by search engines. I thought I would do the world a favor and put the name and location of each person complacent in this death up on this blog, where prospective clients can find it and perhaps question these women about their role in Gavin Michael’s death. This is also an opportunity for anyone listed to take responsibility for their role.  If you want to search this post press control and the F key…

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Any of you drive-by viewers from Facebook want to leave a comment? How did you land here? Do you agree or disagree with a post? Have I made a mistake that requires correction? Enlighten me.

If Utah midwives were honest….

Their websites would read like this.

Here at Utah Midwives we do not carry malpractice insurance. It isn’t required by law, and it eats into our profits. We aren’t worried about being sued because without malpractice insurance, very few lawyers will take on a lawsuit against us since there isn’t enough money in our bank accounts to make the lawsuit worth it. And if a lawsuit is successfully won against us, we’ll just declare bankruptcy, close our birth center, and open a birth center with a new name and continue practicing, like the that one birth center in Michigan.

A must-read for families considering home birth

A co-owner of a birth center who let her license lapse has written a chillingly honest account of out-of-hospital birthing and CPM (certified professional midwife) attended births.

Here are some choice quotes that families may want to see before choosing these lay people to attend their birth:

I am certainly guilty of allowing my memory to lead me down a primrose path. My memory lingers over moments when I was heroic, times when I saved the day, and events that make me seem, in my own mind, like a smart and responsible caregiver. I have to force myself to see things differently, and it is uncomfortable. That time when I expertly resuscitated that breathless baby? I didn’t know he was in distress until he was born; I had missed any warning signs of that. The time I successfully helped a mom avoid the hospital when her blood pressure was a bit high? Her blood pressure was actually dangerously high, and that stunt could have ended in a double tragedy. The time I had to hoist that mom out of the pool and get her on the bed to free her baby’s shoulders? (What a hero I was!) Except, she shouldn’t have been in that pool at all; she trusted me that it was a good idea to get in there in the first place. And it was only luck that her baby’s shoulders freed in time. My memory wants to remember me a certain way, and it is up to me to strive for a more honest perspective.

The author of The Honest Midwife found the exact same insulting facsimile of “peer review” in her career that I have in Utah:

The peer review process after a midwife presides over a complicated birth is a disturbing procedure. Midwives rarely ask hard questions, such as whether this mother truly was a low-risk candidate, whether or not the midwife was monitoring the baby carefully, and why she decided not to call for help sooner. Most peer review processes are characterized instead by soothing platitudes, an atmosphere of comfort and understanding toward the midwife, and reassuring all participants that they are indeed wonderful, special people.(…)

It was a couple weeks before I had an opportunity to discuss the case at my very first official peer review. A new midwife at the time, I was very eager to hear my fellow midwives’ opinions on what I could do differently next time to avoid ever seeing a hemorrhage like that again. I got an answer I was not really looking for: “We know you didn’t do anything wrong. We know you. We know you’re a good midwife. Sometimes things just happen.” At the time, it felt flattering, but insincere: they didn’t actually know me. They had never attended a birth with me and had spent precious little time with me. They claimed to know me, but what they really knew was what they would want to hear if they were in the hot seat. Peer review was more like an enabling therapeutic back-patting than any form of accountability. I learned how to play this game, even though it never felt right. You failed to risk someone out? Well, the birth went well anyway, so your intuition must have been right-on! You didn’t call the second midwife in time for the birth, ten times in a row? Your mamas sure go fast! Your client ended up in the hospital needing a blood transfusion? These things happen in hospitals all the time! Sometimes I would forget my place and offer a piece of harsh criticism; I was never the most diplomatic person, after all. But this was met with resounding censure: we are here to be supportive. I would apologize and get back in line. I felt I had too much to lose to stop playing their game.

Frandsen also found a culture of illegal activity and silence in her time at a midwive’s college:

When, as a student midwife, I first participated in nonhospital births, I witnessed some things that made me uncomfortable. At my school, the head midwife would sometimes do illegal vacuum-assisted deliveries. The first time I saw one done I didn’t realize it was illegal, but when I started talking about it freely, I was quickly quieted by the more senior students. “We call  it ‘the fruit,’” they said, a reference to the vacuum’s brand name, Kiwi. I rationalized that these other students and midwives would not be using “the fruit” if it was really harmful, so the law must be an unnecessary one. Soon, I was recruited to help usher family members out of the room “so the mother can rest,” as a cover for the vacuum use; I would then lock the door and stand guard. If I was instructed to cover the mother’s face with a cold washcloth “to help her relax,” I made sure her eyes were covered so not even she could see the vacuum being applied. I rationalized that surely she would have given us permission to do this to help her get her baby out without transporting, but that it wasn’t smart to ask permission to perform an illegal procedure. Toward the end of my apprenticeship, I was the one holding the vacuum, applying it to the baby’s head, exerting the carefully angled pressure to help pull the baby down. I rationalized that now I would know how to get a baby out, if I were ever in a situation where there were no available hospitals. I did not originally plan to attend a school where I would learn to perform dangerous, illegal procedures; I became complicit through a chain reaction of participation and justification. “The fruit” was only one of many “exceptions” I learned to make; many of these exceptions I carried with me to my later practice. Illicit use of medications, cavalier usage of toxic herbs, induction techniques, pretending not to see a cesarean scar, fudging dates, doctoring charts, “accidental” breech deliveries, cheating blood pressure readings, lying to doctors, ignoring borderline test results, pretending to know answers while furtively Googling, waiting just a little bit longer for baby’s heart tones to improve, purposely underestimating the staining of amniotic fluid, misrepresenting our personal statistics and the statistical realities of our “profession”… all of these practices are endemic to direct-entry midwifery in the United States. I know because I did most of them. I was present (and silent) as others did them. I heard the stories in “peer review.” Not every midwife does all of them; very, very few, if any, do none. It all starts with one small step, and we justify along the way, until we are lost in the woods with no moral compass left to guide us.

Children’s pajamas recalled due to fire risk

stay safe!

fox13now.com

About 32,000 pairs of high-end children's pajamas are being recalled due to the risk of fire. The pajamas are made by Roberta Roller Rabbit and were sold between 2012 and February of this year. (Photo Credit: CPSC) About 32,000 pairs of high-end children’s pajamas are being recalled due to the risk of fire. The pajamas are made by Roberta Roller Rabbit and were sold between 2012 and February of this year. (Photo Credit: CPSC)

About 32,000 pairs of high-end children’s pajamas are being recalled due to the risk of fire.

The pajamas are made by Roberta Roller Rabbit and were sold between 2012 and February of this year.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission say the recalled pajamas, which range from toddler size 1 to youth 12, were sold with either long sleeve with pants or short sleeves with shorts.

The agency said the pajamas fail to meet federal flammability standards. No incidents or injuries have been reported.

Made in Peru, the pajamas retail for between $55 and $65.

The recalled products come in 18 prints in various colors; Babar, Bump, Christopher, Colada, Dino, Elephant, Goby, Hathi, Heart…

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Terrifying search term of the day

someone found my blog by googling “can a midwife legally let a patient gi past 42 weeks”

To answer your question (in Utah), an unlicensed midwife can do whatever she wants to. A licensed midwife is supposed to demand a consult, but might compromise by fudging your due date or otherwise falsifying records (I’ve seen it more than once online as a measure to “save” women from having to get an OB consult).

43 week risk

Of course its a really, really bad idea to go past 42 weeks (or arguably 40 weeks) for reasons illustrated above. The placenta ages and is less able to provide adequate blood and oxygen during contractions, which may contribute to fetal distress, hypoxia, or death during labor. The stillbirth chart is not an all inclusive profile of the risk of going overdue, but it certainly is a scary one. Unless your baby’s heart stops beating while you are already in the hospital there is no real chance of survival. Choose wisely.