April 28, 2010
The story of Abbie Cohen Dorn (Severely Disabled, Is She Still a Mom?, LA Times, April 11, 2010) brought tears to my eyes and sadness in my heart. Abbie is a 34-year old mother of triplet boys whose former husband will not allow her to see them because she has a severe disability caused by a delivery complication.
Abbie was a chiropractor and the daughter of a physician. She married Dan Dorn, began infertility treatments and ultimately conceived triplets. A triplet pregnancy is extremely high risk and Abbie maintained the necessary precautions. Dan was extremely attentive to her needs during the pregnancy. According to the LA Times, on June 20, 2006 the couple rushed to the Cedar Sinai Medical Center. It appears that Abbie had a C. Section that ended with an emergency cesarean hysterectomy to stop the bleeding. Allegedly, her physician “nicked” her uterus. Oh, do I have several questions for her physician. Why wasn’t she scheduled to have an elective c. section rather than allowing her to have spontaneous labor? Was there an “expert” team to deliver the multiples? Did the labor room practice “emergency” drills or were they ill-equipped to handle this emergency?
Fast-forward to 2010. Abbie has significant neurological damage and receives intensive therapy at the cost of $33,000 per month. Dan divorced Abbie in 2008, is requesting child support and refuses to allow his sons to see their mom because he feels “it would be too traumatic for his sons as such a young age.” Abbie has not seen her sons since 2007 and her father sees his grandsons four times a year. Abbie’s parents are challenging Dan’s decision and a trial is set for May 18th.
I was the daughter of a disabled mother and there was never one day that I did not love her – unconditionally. Dan Dorn is wrong. Dead wrong. Abbie deserves to see her children and a community has emerged to give her support. I urge all of my beloved readers to join the “Stand Up for Abbie” Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=116452135047403&ref=ts) and show her some love.
December 30, 2009
According to Answers.com, there is a baby born in the U.S. every 8 seconds, a figure that is both staggering and exhilarating. As an obstetrician, my greatest desires is for all 11,803 babies born each day to arrive healthy and safely. I would like to dedicate my last blog post of 2009 to all the beautiful moms-in-waiting and share some pearls from my 22-year professional journey.
The force that moves the air within our lungs, the blood within our veins, is the same force that has created the life within your womb. The most important key to a healthy pregnancy is the consciousness that lies within. Your child will be shaped by your thoughts, your dreams, your values, your energy. You are the ship that will carry the baby to the shores of its pre-ordained human experience. Please let the journey be smooth. Do not create a storm from worry, a tornado from doubt, a cloud from fear, a disaster from envy. The majority of patients who end up with emergency cesarean sections are those with “fetal distress.” What was causing the distress? Who was causing the distress? Let it not be you, its mother.
Because of the advent of 4-D ultrasound technology, we can actually observe fetal behavior in the womb. We can see babies yawning, sucking their thumbs, stretching their arms and legs, even playing with their umbilical cords. They respond to music, the rhythm of your heartbeat, a touch from your partner, the sound of your voice. You are literally filled with the miracle of life. There is no gift on Earth more precious than that.
You are smarter, stronger, and more brilliant that you can ever imagine. You have been selected, yes, selected, to be this child’s mother. That is the Divine Connection.
I wish you a healthy, joyous pregnancy and a prosperous and blessed New Year.
This excerpt is taken from The Smart Mother’s Guide® to a Better Pregnancy. All Rights Reserved.
December 28, 2009
“A newborn baby abandoned in a Kenyan forest was saved by a stray dog who apparently carried her across a busy road and through a barbed wire fence to a shed where the infant was discovered nestled with a litter of puppies.” CBS News covered this story as well.
This baby girl was dressed in a torn shirt and wrapped in a plastic bag when the dog found her in a poor neighborhood near a forest in Nairobi. She was approximately two days old. “When the dog picked up the baby in a dirty bag, it came and dropped her behind the wooden building where the dog has its puppies,” stated an eyewitness. The baby was found by children who had heard her cry and was eventually taken to the hospital where, with the exception of an infected umbilical cord, was doing well. This story gave me reason to pause. Obviously, the act of abandonment was superseded by the will of a higher power who proclaimed that this baby would live. What amazed me the most was the compassion and bravery of the dog. It had risked its own life by crossing a busy street while holding on to the baby, faced physical harm as it crawled underneath a barbed wired fence and shared its resources by placing the baby alongside its own litter of puppies. Perhaps the dog understood how miraculous this newborn baby was even if its own mother didn’t.
In a world of infinite possibilities, miracles can occur under the most unusual circumstances. And yes, we can gain profound insight, even from a dog.
This excerpt is taken from The Smart Mother’s Guide® to a Better Pregnancy. All Rights Reserved.
December 9, 2009
The tragedy of Roshunda Abney, (Las Vegas Review, Woman Says She Was Ignored in ER, Paul Harasim ) occurs much too often. She went home after a six-hour hospital wait, and returned with a dead baby.
Abney was a part-time customer service rep in Las Vegas who lived with her high school sweetheart. They had relocated from Mississippi for a better life.
Abney had irregular menstrual periods, so she didn’t know that she was pregnant. For the past two days she had experienced menstrual-type cramping that wouldn’t go away despite taking over-the-counter painkillers. When the pain became unbearable, Abney went to a hospital-affiliated urgent care center. A nurse requested a urine sample but Abney was not able to supply one. Thirty minutes later a decision was made to transfer Abney to the hospital ER because she needed “higher care.” She was also uninsured.
Abney’s vital signs were taken upon her arrival to the hospital ER and then she proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. Her pain became worse and she unsuccessfully attempted to receive medical attention. When she told a certified nursing assistant that her pain was getting worse, he told her that if she endured it for two days, “another 45-minutes wouldn’t make a difference.”
Sympathetic patients who were present in the waiting room offered to allow Abney to go ahead of them. They were subsequently informed to “mind their business or they would never see a doctor.” After a six-hour wait without being seen, she went to another hospital where she was also not seen and went home thinking she had gallstones. Twenty minutes after she reached home, her membranes ruptured and the feet of a baby was emerging. Paramedics were called and subsequently delivered a 24-week breech baby girl who was lifeless.
Abney’s case illustrates why hospitals and physicians get sued. She had to contend with layers of arrogance and calloused gatekeepers.
I strongly encourage all pregnant women to read The Smart Mother’s Guide to a Better Pregnancy. If you think the story of Roshunda Abney is an isolated incidence. Please, think again.
June 30, 2009
There should be a litmus test for ethics and integrity so that the landscape of our country could look vastly different. There would be no healthcare crisis, no financial collapse, no housing foreclosures or unnecessary deaths because of pain medication addiction. The misfits seeking positions of power would be duly eliminated before they created havoc.
The death of Michael Jackson documented an ever expanding reality that gives me great pain: some doctors will do anything for the pursuit of money, even at the expense of human life.
During the course of my medical career, I have witnessed and have had to report colleagues who have crossed the line for the sake of their bank accounts. The colleague who supplied his cocaine habit by doing unnecessary surgery and fraudulent Medicaid billing. The physician who paid his cronies on a per-patient-basis and turned a public funded healthcare facility into a money making factory. The “deals” made by colleagues that violate conflicts of interests. Hippocrates is probably rolling over in his grave.
I will not write fictitious sick notes, fraudulent disability claims, fill prescriptions for people without a medical chart and am fiercely protective of my DEA license. My medical degree is not for sale. There are times when I have not been the most popular physician among my colleagues but at least I can sleep at night. I wonder if the physicians of Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson can do the same.
The seduction of money comes with a heavy price. Just ask Michael Millikan, Ivan Boesky, or perhaps, the clients of Bernie Madoff. Dr. Deepak Chopra had the courage to say “no” to Michael Jackson, despite his celebrity. I only wish more of my colleagues would have the decency to do the same.
May 7, 2009
The comments regarding Jacob Goldstein’s Health Blog in the Wall Street Journal made me want to run for cover. His article, Health Insurance May Stop Charging Women More Money evoked the haters on the Right to come out in full force. Goldstein discussed Senator John Kerry’s proposed new legislature, The Women’s Insurance Fairness Act. This legislation would effectively end higher insurance premiums for women, deny gender discrimination and require maternity coverage. Imagine that. I’ll refrain from my usual diatribes about the evils of insurance companies. I’d like to give my hypertension a rest.
Gender discrimination is a life-long battle and affects every aspect of our society. I had to ultimately “fire” my dry cleaner, (although he performed excellent work) because of his inequitable pricing practices. My husband’s shirts cost $1.29 to be cleaned, my blouses were $3.50. His suits were $8.50; mine $12.50. Every time I questioned the discrepancy, he’d give me a litany of incoherent excuses that made absolutely no sense.
According to actuarial tables, women outlive men by a factor of seven years, but does that justify charging us higher premiums? Oh, excuse me. We get pregnant — as if that’s a crime. Does the testosterone-dominated crowd over at WSJ realize that every living species on this planet enters life through the uterus of a woman? In the world of my youth, when a man or a corporate entity exploited a woman financially they were commonly called in the language of street vernacular . . . a pimp.
The insurers’ acknowledgment of a disparity against women gives me a glimmer a hope despite their attempt to arm-wrestle the government from providing Universal Health Insurance. Kudos to Senator Kerry for writing this outstanding bill. Healthcare reform may not arrive in the morning but at least we’re taking small steps in the right direction.
May 1, 2009
As we all know by now, CDC has implemented an emergency response because of the H1N1 viral outbreak that has infected one hundred and nine people and caused one death of a 23-month toddler in Texas who was visiting from Mexico. The virus was first identified in April 2009 and is easily transmitted to humans. Although one might be tempted to respond with panic, it is much more productive to remain calm.
The good news is that a full-court press effort has been initiated bringing together CDC scientists to exchange pertinent information with public health emergency response partners. An international committee is also involved because of the potential of the viruses’ transmission through visitors and travelers. According to CDC, emergency medications and personnel can be transported across the country within two hours of notification and within six hours for an international flight. All 50 U.S. states and territories have already received the necessary medication and protective equipment in the event of an outbreak. At last count, there were no cases reported of infected pregnant women.
Although pregnant women and children are particularly susceptible to infections, the following CDC recommendations will help you stay healthy:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleansers are also effective because they immediately reduce the number of germs
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Stay home if you are sick. Stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
- Store a supply of food, medicines, facemasks, alcohol-based hand rubs and other essential supplies.
A cough, sore throat, running nose, muscle aches and a temperature of 100°F or greater always needs further evaluation. These symptoms usually resolve within three to five days however, if these symptoms become rapidly worse, testing for the swine flu should be done immediately by a state public health laboratory.
The current treatment for the swine flu are antiviral medications called zanamivir and oseltamivir and should be started within 48 hours of suspected infection. As a precaution, pregnant women are sometimes admitted in the hospital for a minimum of five days.
The most reliable source of information regarding this outbreak is not what you will hear or see in the media but what’s on the CDC website. I encourage everyone to visit http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu for further information and will continue to provide updates through my blog until this crisis is over.
April 1, 2009
Of the 4 million babies born each year in the United States, one out of eight will be premature. Minority women carry the greatest risk and are usually caught off guard. Premature babies face multiple challenges and many die within the first year of life. These challenges include cerebral palsy, physical and intellectual disabilities in addition to emotional family trauma. Each year $26 billion dollars are spent taking care of premature babies in neonatal intensive care units and is a public health crisis.
The good news is that there are new methods of diagnosis that can identify women who are at risk and prolong their pregnancy as much as possible. Ladies please take note: Having your cervix measured at 22 weeks can predict who will be at risk for having babies too soon. If your cervix measures 20 to 25 centimeters, treatment with progesterone is offered that has been shown to reduce the rate of premature deliveries that occur before 32 weeks. An awareness of having risk factors can empower you to seek proper treatment early and improve your chances of having a healthy baby.
Please report pressure, back pain or abdominal pain to your healthcare provider immediately. Pain or pressure that occurs four or more times in one hour could indicate premature labor and can be treated if diagnosed in a timely manner. Also get tests for sexually transmitted infections, especially if you have a vaginal discharge, and get treated for urinary tract infections). Bacteria are not your friend during pregnancy however antibiotic therapy is priceless if given in time.
Pregnancy is one of the most important milestones of your life. A healthy pregnancy doesn’t just happen; it takes a SMART mother who knows what to do.