Monday, April 02, 2012

Reflection on practice

Today I am using Gibbs' reflective process in reviewing an experience I have had recently, attending a woman, who I will call Linda (not her real name), giving birth in hospital. I do not want to approach this from an idealistic standpoint, or to 'deamonise' the hospital. Birth, as with the rest of life, is full of unpredictable moments when those who are present are called upon to do their best.

Alena welcomes her baby brother, Christopher

I want to assure readers that mother and baby are well.  However, I am left with some difficult questions. I question my own actions as well as those of colleagues in the hospital.

1. What happened?
Linda was treated unnecessarily (imho) and aggressively for obstetric haemorrhage.

2. Feelings: What was I thinking and feeling?
I was shocked, surprised, and bewildered when I realised that there was a full-scale emergency 'code' being performed, with not only active management of the Third Stage, but additional oxytocic drugs intramuscular Syntometrine, intravenous Syntocinon (40 IU in 1 litre of fluid) administered urgently.

3. Evaluation: What was good and bad about the experience?
What was good? Having experienced respectful care from the doctors and midwives through the pregnancy, and engaged in carefully informed decision-making up to the moment of birth, this incident was an over-reaction to Linda's known risk factors (including multiparity, and a previous caesarean birth)
What was bad: I realised that I had facilitated this chain of events, because I encouraged Linda to agree in early labour to having the IV cannula sited in her arm.

4. Analysis: What sense can I make of the situation?
I can understand why this incident happened, because I know about other very difficult incidents that this group of midwives were dealing with.

5. Conclusion: What else could I have done?
At present a midwife practising privately is not able to have visiting access for clinical privileges in hospitals in Victoria. I cannot over-ride the clinical decision of another midwife, and when an emergency code has been called, I would be foolish to interfere. My long term hope is that I will be able to have clinical practice rights in public hospitals, and in this case I would be able to take responsibility for my own clients.

6. Action Plan: If it arose again, what will I do? 
As I noted in #3 above, I had encouraged Linda to agree to the hospital's policy and have an IV cannula sited in preparation for an incident such as a post partum haemorrhage (pph). I believe Linda would have declined the offer if I had not spoken to her about it. In this case I think it was the fact that the cannula was in situ, and the hospital midwife was basically 'set up' for a pph, that somehow set the pathway.

In another similar situation, I will be careful to inform the mother that once a cannula has been sited, it is easier for staff who may be on edge for totally unrelated reasons, to 'jump the gun' and treat her as though she is in an emergency, when this is not the case.