Midwife Neglects to Wear Gloves; Mother Contracts Flesh Eating Bacteria in her Vagina

In 2004 midwife Brenda Shea AKA Victoria Johnson now known as Victoria Konradson attended a birth in Bend, OR. Two days after the birth the mother was hospitalized with flesh eating bacteria (necrotizing fasciitis) of her vaginal area,  from which she nearly died.  One day after the birth Ms Shea/Johnson/Konradson was diagnosed with the SAME flesh eating bacteria on her hand.  The midwife did not wear gloves while attending this birth and stitching the mother’s tear.  Licensed direct entry midwives are required by the state to use proper aseptic techniques.

Questions to consider:

  1. In news coverage, a midwife states that many DEMs do not use gloves for waterbirths because it is difficult to find the right kind of full-coverage gloves for such births. Why do they not simply special order the appropriate gloves, maybe even going in together as a co-op to save money?
  2. Since the 1980s, “universal precautions” have been in place to prevent the spread of HIV and other bloodborne diseases without unduly stigmatizing those already diagnosed or taking undue risks with those not yet diagnosed. How many midwives are exposing themselves to bodily fluids in waterbirths, and likewise exposing their patients, because of the lack of these special gloves, and how many women may be at risk for bloodborne disease because of such exposures?
  3. Why did Shea/Konradson not inform her patient what happened after she left, that she had come down with a serious disease and that the patient was at high risk?
  4. Why would anyone stitch a wound in a woman’s genital area without gloves on? Surely the repair did not happen underwater as well.