Following In Dr. Biter’s footsteps

A North Carolina physician is being investigated after having presided over 3 home birth fatalities.

In a statement issued through his attorney Friday, Dr. John David Hayes also said families of the babies have continued to support him.

Of course they do, most people choose birth providers specifically because they trust them. It is terrifying to think that someone you trusted hurt you unnecessarily. The article actually notes that the information came from an unnamed source and that details of the deaths will never be released. Someone saw a pattern and spoke up out of concern for other people, and I commend them for doing so. The fear of repercussion or being ignored is very daunting when deciding to report other people for misconduct.

Dr Hayes expects to be cleared of wrongdoing. I do not expect that for him. Most obstetricians lose one full term baby that was otherwise expected to live in their entire careers, and he has lost 3 in 10 years. At least that is if you believe that he was only taking low-risk patients, which seems to be the only possible way for him to excuse taking a patient for home birth to begin with. His arguments are nonsensical in some portions of the article:

“I expect that after a thorough and impartial investigation, all of my home birth practices will be found to be within the standard of care for an obstetrician in North Carolina,” he said.

Home birth is not the standard of care for any obstetrician. The standard of care for obstetrics involves having ready access to blood transfusions and an operating room, something no home birth can offer without an unacceptably long transfer period. That is why ACOG and virtually every obstetrician discourages out of hospital birth for patients. Most pediatricians discourage home birth as well, on the basis of having treated so many brain damaged patients who were hurt by their parent’s decision to home birth.

However, as Dr Hayes and a few notable exceptions prove (Dr. Biter, and non-OBGYNs Aviva Romm, Dr Sears, and the late Marsden Wagner) an adequate education is not always enough to protect doctors from believing in quackery.

For those who are unaware, Dr Biter is another male OB who was dead set on home birth and insisted on its safety. Unlike dr Hayes, Dr Biters patients did complain in the form of a lawsuit. Dr Biter ultimately surrendered his medical license in light of the fact that he botched a home birth and killed someone’s child. He later decided to open a birth center as a non-physician, until social media pressure caused it to close. Dr Biter has also been the subject of sexual complaints, having taken advantage of the dr-patient relationship in order to obtain sexual favors from his patients. He is very scummy.

Many people who are aware of the debate about malpractice reform know that a minority of doctors are usually responsible for the majority of malpractice claims. When your doctor swims against the current in their speciality it is very difficult to know if it is because they are ahead of their time or because they are quacks. This I know for sure- there are far more doctors who succumbed to quackery than those who were ahead of their time. Be careful.

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