A midwife in Scotland is in hot water after it was determined she intentionally gave 13 pregnant women drugs that caused their babies’ hearts to slow down to dangerous levels. The midwife, Kirsteen Stewart, allegedly gave the women the dangerous drugs in a bid to speed up their labor for her own convenience. All 13 of the women cited required emergency c-sections to save their babies’ lives following the use of the labor-inducing drugs.
The Daily Mail reports that midwife Kirsteen Stewart is being investigated after using the labor-inducing drug Syntocinon on her patients to allegedly speed up the labor for her own convenience. The police say that they investigated Stewart but did not bring criminal proceedings against the midwife. However, that hasn’t stopped the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) from investigating the incident to determine if Stewart was neglectful in her behavior.
Midwife struck off after she drugged pregnant women in bid to make her work easier: KIRSTEEN STEWART was fou… https://t.co/oPY6UiqmaJ
— News Scotland (@NewsScotland) January 8, 2016
Michael Collis, the case presenter with NMC, says that the investigation has revealed that Stewart gave the Syntocinon not for medical reasons, but rather to speed up labor for her own interests. Collis notes that the drug causes the uterus to contract and speed up labor. However, it can also cause the baby’s heartbeat to slow to dangerous levels. This is what happened to 13 of Stewart’s patients that required emergency c-sections to save their babies.
“The only logical explanation that has been put forward as to why the registrant might have behaved in this way…is a desire to speed up the women’s time in labour in order to serve the registrant’s own interests.”
— Aberdeen News (@Aberdeen_News_) November 23, 2015
Collis further explains that with no discovered medical purpose for the use of Syntocinon in the pregnant patients, Stewart breached “the fundamental tenets of the profession” and should no longer be allowed to practice midwifery.
“By behaving in such a way, and apparently prioritizing her own interests over the interests of her patients and their unborn children, the registrant has breached one of the fundamental tenets of the profession [which] has undoubtedly been brought into disrepute by the registrant’s conduct.”
As a result of the investigation, the Nursing and Midwifery Council is considering removing Stewart from the registry and disallowing the woman from ever practicing midwifery again. In total, the investigation found that Stewart had administered Syntocinon for her own convenience in 15 of 20 cases. Therefore, one doctor at the hospital where Stewart worked is asking why the NMC didn’t notice the frightening complication rate for Stewart’s births sooner. Dr. Jean Turner says that more should have been done faster after the first reports.
“It does seem to have taken an inordinate length of time to get something done. As a patient you would expect that this wouldn’t happen as there should be communications between clinicians. Whatever system they had in place – it needs to be looked at. As a mother it would worry you sick that a member of the health profession would deliberately go out of their way to harm you.”
— LaurenceVick (@LaurenceVick) January 8, 2016
The NMC notes that they have no physical evidence that Stewart gave the woman Syntocinon, hence the lack of criminal charges, however they say there is overwhelming evidence that she did based off of evaluation of the women and their babies at the time of birth. Doctors at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary point out that Syntocinon is only to be prescribed by doctors, not a midwife, and that if Stewart gave Syntcinon to patients she should have done so with the go-ahead from a doctor in the hospital.
Though the police investigation was closed in 2010, the Crown notes that the case could be reopened following the NMC investigation, but did not elaborate on any further plans to do so.
[Photo via Doug Shutter/Shutterstock]