Newborn given drug in error

Senior midwives are worried after a botch-up that saw a baby mistakenly dosed. Maryanne Twentyman reports.

Senior Waikato midwives have publicised an alleged drug mix-up involving a mother and newborn baby under the care of a "relatively new" graduate midwife.

A group has told the Waikato Times a baby was given a drug by a midwife that was intended for its mother at Hamilton's River Ridge East birthing centre on June 20.

River Ridge East clinical manager Gabi Klapka said she was unable to provide any information "regarding any incidents or occurrences" at River Ridge East due to privacy issues.

She said River Ridge East had robust systems and procedures in place if there was any incident.

"We are confident that these systems and procedures are followed and any incident is investigated fully," she said.

Midwives told the Times the baby was given an intramuscular injection of anti-D medicine by the midwife who was supposed to give the mother a hepatitis B injection.

The midwives, who do not want to be named, said the hepatitis B injection came in a pre-loaded syringe while the anti-D drug was drawn up from a vial.

The group of midwives has been encouraged to take their concerns directly to the College of Midwives, but say they have not because of how previous complaints have been handled.

It is understood the baby did not suffer any serious long-term effects from the medication, usually given to prevent Rhesus disease.

"But that is not the point," said one senior midwife. "When is this going to stop? That was midwifery 101. Mothers and babies should not be put in this position."

The senior midwives said their concern was directed at the inexperience of some midwives and the training new graduates received, not with River Ridge East, which was just the facility midwives used.

Midwifery training has come under scrutiny since the death of baby Adam Barlow following a botched delivery last year – his parents Robert and Linda went public with their story last month.

The Barlows believed their midwife was not experienced enough to deal with Mrs Barlow's delivery which almost claimed her life.

Mr Barlow said he was sickened to learn of the latest alleged incident – the details of which were given to him as his wife underwent more surgery to repair damage following their tragic delivery.

"I was at the hospital waiting for Linda to come through surgery and I was just reassuring our son Orry... then I heard about this – I felt sick to the stomach," he said.

Mr Barlow believed drugs were not double-checked in his wife's case.

College of Midwives chief executive Karen Guilliland said she stood by national midwifery training standards.

"We have full confidence in the degree training curriculum, the Midwifery Standards of Practice that midwives are required to meet under the Midwifery Council of New Zealand, and the regular, comprehensive education and review systems which assist them with this," Ms Guilliland said.

She appealed to midwives to take their concerns directly to the college to be investigated rather than the media.

She said women's confidence in a safe and effective maternity service was unnecessarily undermined when concerns were aired in media without a balanced and factual approach.

The senior midwives claimed their concerns had been shared in the past but had not been taken on board.

Waikato Times