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Dec 09 2013

Doctors in such circumstances

There’s the New York Times editorial on the Michigan case for instance. That takes it for granted.

The suit was brought on behalf of a Michigan woman, Tamesha Means, who says she was subjected to substandard care at a Catholic hospital — the only hospital in her county — after her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy. Doctors in such circumstances typically induce labor or surgically remove the fetus to reduce the woman’s chances of infection. But according to the complaint, doctors acting in accordance with the bishops’ directives did not inform Ms. Means that her fetus had virtually no chance of surviving or that terminating her pregnancy was the safest treatment option.

But the summary of the HIQA report doesn’t take it for granted at all; it doesn’t even mention it. It ignores the fact that doctors in such circumstances typically induce labor or surgically remove the fetus to reduce the woman’s chances of infection, and simply talks about managing the infection.

That is fucked up.

2 comments

  1. 1
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    “had virtually no chance of surviving”

    I wonder, is that “virtually” a weasel word? Has there ever been a case in which an 18 week foetus has survived in these circumstances? Is there any mechanism (aside from magic or sci-fi force fields) that one might conjecture could enable such an outcome? I guess what I’m getting at is whether it’s reasonable to say that Means should have been informed that there was “virtually no chance” or that there was “no chance at all”? A lot of people in such circumstances might hold on to that “virtually” as a real hope and put their lives at risk unnecessarily. Yeah, I know the question is moot since she was not informed at all.

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    Jen Gunter discussed that in the post I linked to last week. She said the chance is tiny but not zero. Some women do want to take the chance, and that’s part of the discussion and the standard of care. (I would assume that women who do take the chance are carefully monitored and that some [or most or all] stop trying if infection develops.) But as I understand it it’s not a weasel word.

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