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can we talk about feedback/complaints on birth care?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
x-posted from my tribal forum

Lots of birth stories come my way. Right now, I'm thinking of the less-than-happy ones; whenever someone complains about their provider (or nurse or apprentice), I generally ask if the storyteller ever considered talking to the dr or mw (or nurse or...)--sending a letter, making a call, even going to whatever agency 'above' the dr or mw may apply-- making concerns known. And most often, people are reluctant to do this. Well, most loathe confrontation...or at least, they do if they feel it will go nowhere, only make them feel worse. This is understandable, of course.

I should add that a few have said they *did* try to complain, to no avail--the mw didn't respond, or tried to turn the complaint around on them. Medical complaints got lost in red-tape-land...and came to naught. In a very few cases, issues raised with 'overseeing agencies' among hb mws or med workers only resulted in bureaucratic stonewalling-- "thanks we have it in hand now, don't worry your pretty little head over it" Which kind of makes the above point (feeling confrontation will go nowhere) a bit more sharp.

Still, seems to me that things won't change that might need to change, if people don't speak up. If many people have the same complaints about a doc, nurse, mw, but only 1 or a few actually complain to the provider or overseeing agency, then making change is less likely. On the other hand, if 9 out of 10 people with same complaint DID speak up, it seems to me that change would have to come about one way or another.

Anyone care to speak to this? Any experiences with attempting to raise concerns...or just the experience of having a complaint about a birth professional that you felt you could not air toward a positive change? Or even 'should not air', lest you become the target of negative peer pressure? Not so much looking for the particulars (unless you feel like saying it), more hoping to hear your feelings/views on the general topic. Help me understand...and maybe come up with some ideas to 'break the silence'. Y'know...the worst of things thrive in silence, silence is the best ally of poor care. Me, I like to make some noise now and then

Responses here or via pm will be very welcome.

I am wondering, btw, if your dr or mw provide a postpartum survey to clients; is their receiving feedback something they seek, or not?

post #2 of 7
I actually have been lucky and always recieved good care from my OB's. Within the groups I would get one or two people and we'd butt heads but it was never anything involving danger to anyone, just difference of opinions.

I have also had a midwife who recently my husband and I had some concerns. My conversation landed me no where with her. It was almost like I was talking to a wall. Again there were no actual safety concerns but there could have been if we continued with her care for our birth. Ultimately we just switched providers.

Then comes the question of reporting higher up.... I don't feel like our situation warrants it. Midwife had her views on how things should go, I had my views. We had a difference of opinions and ultimately we chose to take our opinions elsewhere. Had an actual situation occurred then yes most certainly I would have reported... however nothing happened, and there is nothing to say anything would have happened.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the update, turnquia

And your situation as you report it, does amount to a form of 'feedback' to a mw. A client leaving care is a pretty loud statement for a mw to receive...and whether or not she actually hears it, is up to her. The main thing for any family is to switch care instead of going back for more! Switching care prior to the emergence of problems--seeing the potential for problems looming, and moving to avoid them--is the best thing for the family's safety and comfort. In a case like yours, your message of departure from care is the only 'feedback' that is needed to help yourselves.

Still, often families either don't experience problems until the birth or even after (pp care, BF stuff that may be serious). Then, 'leaving care' is inevitable anyway...and it may be some years before you can make the 'statement/critique' of choosing someone else for care.

What I said, above: "the only 'feedback' that is needed to help yourselves." This is all I hope to promote--for people to help themselves. We are the most important people to help--ourselves! To be clear on that...no one needs to do anything, IMO, for everyone else. And still, it's always been a form of 'helping myself', to make some noise about things like poor care. First, I like to get things off my chest--it helps *me*, no matter what the 'result'. Not everyone has this same need, I realize...but IME, many more people DO have that need, than not. At least, the evidence seems to be in those who finally do blow up about something they'd been holding onto for whatever reason--KWIM?

The 2nd thing is that by making noise that reaches the community somehow (such as pursuing complaints through overseeing agencies), we help ourselves directly and indirectly. Indirectly, but just as surely, if attention to our complaint by others does help prompt changes on a broader scale.

Does that make sense?
post #4 of 7
Ha, you're making me feel guilty now.

I LOATHED the LCs at the otherwise great & NCB-friendly hospital where I had DS. (Well, 1 of the 4 that I all met with repeatedly was good. The other 3 were terrible.)

I wrote a 2 page letter that was pretty extensive. I believe if you complain, there's not a ton of value in saying, "I think the LCs were bad." OK, whatever, maybe I was just having a bad day & projecting onto them. But if I give details about my experience, then the reader can make their own judgment about whether or not my complaint is valid & the behavior was 'poor' in any way.

I just never got around to printing & mailing the letter! So I really need to do that.

You're right, things won't ever change if we don't speak up. & it was only my absolutely insane stubbornness, along with assistance from my DH (who, of course, had no clue what he was doing, but at least TRIED to help with Google searches), that saved me. I'm not trying to be too self-congratulatory, but seriously, I think the vast majority of women would have given it up facing what I faced (& I often thought I was insane for continuing.)

& that's a shame. A real shame. With some half-way decent support, it didn't need to be nearly as awful as it was. & of course, knowing that makes me really angry too.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Yes! You should congratulate yourself, absolutely and then some. The one doing the most important work of pregnancy, birth and BF is MOM...the rest of us are just supporters of that work. Or instead, people who hinder that work, one way and another. So, big congrats to you on sticking with it...

And mail that letter now, wouldja?
post #6 of 7
I sent a letter of complaint shortly after Ds was born to the hospital. I complained about their policies and about the care I received from the nurses and midwives. The head midwife called me back and thanked me for my letter and told me that it would be shown to the hospitals board of directors and that they had spoken to the midwife about it. I never heard if any changes were made though.

Then, four years later, after I had struggled with PTSD due to the experience and felt I deserved some compensation for the money I had lost to have it treated, I filed a claim with the hospital. I was told this claim would be decided by a third party, which was a lie. It was actually decided by the hospitals lawyer. I filed a single spaced over 30 page claim that numbered and explained each time my rights to informed consent were violated, as well as my patients rights according to their own hospital's patients bill of rights, as well as whenever the midwives philosophy of care was violated by the midwives. After a long process where I called and argued with several people, my claim was denied and I got nothing. The hospital lawyer said that since I signed the blanket consent form upon entering the hospital I no longer had the right to make decisions about individual procedures (yes, even if I was screaming "no, I don't want it" I apparently didn't have the legal right to say no to any treatment).

I also worked on the birth survey project from CIMS and I believe it is a great tool to use to make your opinions about providers known to other women. The more people that use this survey, the more accurate the results will be, so I encourage everyone to fill out a survey for a good or a bad experience.

The last thing that I still need to do is file a complaint with the Joint Commission as well as file a complaint for my midwives through the nursing board in my state, and send a copy of this to ACNM. There is no time deadline on this, so I still intend to do it. I just got sidetracked with starting college and having a new baby.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Wow, you are AMAZING! Your story inspires me...well, can that still be true, considering the price you paid for getting to the point of filing for compensation?

How unfortunate that the hospital handled it that way--those 'general consent' forms we sign do not mean SQUAT wrt informed consent! They are only used, as in cases like yours, to try to persuade potential complainers that it would useless to complain. Obviously, given all the claims that do get heard in court, though--judges are not buying that general consent as 'good enough' to pass legal informed consent muster. Now we see why so many people do sue...what a catch 22 the hospitals have set up.

And how great that you are still keeping a further grievance in mind, great that there is no time limit.

Thanks for keeping on, and for all that you do/have done to make other families' trail easier when it comes to complaints.
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