Every time I write one of these posts, it breaks my heart, but these women’s deaths would go unnoticed without raising public awareness.
If you are interested in receiving information about the Black Ob-Gyn Directory that will drop in February 2023, please contact me at DoctorLindaOnline@gmail.com or https://www.thesmartmothersguide.com/contact/
A young, Black woman, pregnant with her second child, leaves the hospital empty-handed because no one would listen to her. It is a social refrain that bears no repeating. She had a previous delivery at 37 weeks because of preeclampsia. When she became pregnant again, her ob-gyn told her she was not a high-risk patient, but he was wrong. She didn’t receive baby aspirin during the second pregnancy, although she should have. Her provider told her he would prescribe it at 28 weeks, which was wrong because the optimum time to receive it is 16 weeks. She never saw a high-risk pregnancy specialist, although she should have. Instead, she developed the HELLP Syndrome at 25 weeks, and her baby expired.
One might say that the baby died from prematurity. However, evidence-based research reports a 67 to 76% survival rate for preterm babies born at 25 weeks.
She went to a social media group, seeking solace and comfort for her grief, and the disparities were glaring. Painful. Everyone in the group knew what a maternal fetal medicine specialist was except Laney, and no, they did not look like her.
I am weary of those sad stories. I am frustrated that things get worse instead of better regarding our healthcare system. However, I am committed to “Be the change I want to see.” So, I, along with other Black ob-gyn physicians, are rolling out a Black Obstetrician-Gynecologist Directory/Database so people like Laney can receive care from people who respect her culture and, most importantly, LISTEN to her.
Representation matters. Healthy Babies Matter. The dignity of this patient matters.
Thanks for your response regarding my 25th rejection to become a member of ACOG’s Medically Underserved Women’s Committee. Please be advised that I will not be submitting any future applications.
Although I have paid my annual dues for the past 25 years, I cannot guarantee that I will continue to do so in the future.
Have you noticed the dwindling number of obstetricians-gynecologists who pay their dues, especially those who look like me?
Although I originally planned to write a lengthy letter, my former high school photographer teacher (may he rest in peace) once said, “A picture is worth 1,000 words.”
The picture of this Black woman’s unassisted homebirth speaks volumes and represents our dismal failure as effective clinicians in keeping pregnant women safe and unharmed. Some Black women would rather stay home and deliver their babies in a tub without assistance than come into a hospital where they are often disrespected, ignored, and clinically mismanaged. How do we change that narrative?
This week’s JAMA opinion hits home. Medicine is an art as well as a science. Since ACOG will not allow me a membership to the Medically Underserved Committee, let me offer this advice based on my 35 years of clinical and professional experience:
Stop allowing ob-gyn residents to “cut and paste” history and physicals and feign them as their own. This practice represents cheating and does not enhance their clinical acumen. How are residents supposed to learn if they use someone else’s data?
Initiate mandatory competency exams regarding the diagnosis and management of preeclampsia. Some residents do NOT know how to manage preeclampsia effectively, and I have reviewed those dismal malpractice cases to prove it: The case of the late Dr. Chaniece Wallace is a prime example. The state of Indiana could use some much-needed help.
Adopt the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative’s clinical guidelines that have proven they can reduce maternal mortality. The present ACOG clinical guidelines for the management of preeclampsia are as clear as mud, especially as it relates to patients who demonstrate preeclampsia symptoms before 39-weeks. My late residency director, Dr. Sterling Williams, former V.P. of Education at ACOG, is greatly missed. We did not have confusing clinical guidelines when he was alive.
I wish you a successful year as the new ACOG president and hope you will consider some of my recommendations.
Linda Burke (formerly Burke-Galloway), MD, MS, FACOG