I have never done this before…
A few months ago I started writing reviews for my clients care providers. And writing birth stories from the perspective of the doula when appropriate. I never wanted to be cruel. I never wanted to focus on the bad and ignore the good. But today I find myself needing to write a negative review, and I hate that!
Recently I served at a hospital where the bad outweighed the good. I know that a lot of what I am about to tell you could be isolated to that nurse, care provider, or even that shift. But what I saw needs to be addressed. And I hope that what I saw was isolated. But I do feel it needs to be addressed.
As I doula I was over the moon when my client called days before her scheduled induction and told me, shouting from the rooftops, that her hospital, Methodist Richardson, decided to let doulas in! She and I had been sending e-mails for months to get them back in and now it finally happened in the nick of time!
My client was treated kindly by staff through the admittance period and overnight as she worked through early labor. I got there once active labor started. I observed the friendliness of the staff upon arrival and was pleased as well. Then my client asked for a birth ball. The nurse assured her she could get one, she would just have to find where it was left last because every room didn’t have one. I glanced across the room at the very fancy sink in the room that clearly cost more money than a usual hospital sink. And also clearly much more money than a $12.99 birth ball…
For fun click on the image to watch their advertisement video and count how many times the sinks show up… spoiler alert it’s more than you’d think…
The disconnect is unreal from what this hospital think mothers want and what they actually want/need. Massage chairs, fancy sinks, fancy shower heads, is all well and good… But every room doesn’t have its own birth and peanut ball? Will a fancy sink help move baby down? If so, this doula would love to know that trick! Ask any mother or even any person in the world what they would rather the hospital spend money on and I would bet the decor will be the bottom of the list.
But sadly this wasn’t the worst part of my experience in Methodist Richardson, that is still to come.
Birth ball was found and I watched as the nurse was very attentive to my client. I always appreciate that! I even noticed that she waited until my client expressly requested the epidural to make sure she was making an informed decision. It was about the time that the epidural was in place that the instances of informed consent stopped, and not long after that they stopped looking at the birth plan too.
After that I noticed a habit of 2 nurses touching my client without permission. They would adjust her bed without even letting her know they were doing it, which startled her several times. They also left her door cracked about a foot and a half while the epidural was being placed. But again, that wasn’t the worst to come.
When my client started feeling the urge to push the nurse got on her walkie talkie to request another nurse to order some medication she needed to put in for another patient of hers. This is normal and appropriate, because my client was more urgent. But what was not appropriate was when the nurse not only gave detailed info about the medication needed and the patient’s room number, but also the patients full last name. I stopped dead in my tracks. Some woman somewhere on that floor had her HIPPA rights violated right in front of me. I had seen instances where this came close to happening but had never seen a full on violation.
But believe it or not that is still not the worst to come. As awful, and illegal, as it was, thankfully none of us in the room knew who this woman was and are not going to use that information against her. Unfortunately the nurse did not know that for sure.
But as I said…the worst is to come.
Many hospital rooms are arranged in a suite style, but instead of sharing a bathroom they share a medical supply room. This is where the birth balls are usually kept. (insert annoyed smile here). I see that these rooms make life easier for nurses and care providers. Wether or not they are best for the care and protection of the patient is arguable, but that’s another blog post.
My client repeatedly told the nurse that she was feeling the need to push. The nurse told her expressly several times, “don’t push until the doctor gets here!”. This is not evidence based advice and has seriously injured women in the past.
While we waited for the doctor arrive the nurses helped get her ready. They removed her catheter and put her legs in the stirrups since she still could not move them. Again, arguable that that was necessary or just easier for the nurses and care provider, but that’s also another blog post. I had stepped back to give them room to set her up and I noticed that the door the the supply room had been left open and I could see into, not just that room, but through the open door into the next room.
Because of where my client was laying, spread eagle, her entire exposed pelvic floor was in direct line of sight to a young man sitting on a chair in that other room. He was wearing normal clothes, not scrubs, and I quickly shut the door. Another nurse was heading to the room and I warned her of the situation, the first nurse (the one who left it open in the first place) huffed and said, “No one is in there anyway.” I informed her what I had seen, she looked confused and responded, “Oh, I didn’t think they would have been in there yet.”
After baby was born, every nurse that came into the room forcefully, without warning or request, and roughly massaged my clients uterus. Again startling her every time! Massaging the top of the uterus is valuable for helping control bleeding, it NEVER needs to be done without a simple, “Hey, do you mind if I massage your uterus really quick?” The massage also doesn’t have to be rough and hard, but that is also a blog post for another time.
I wanted so desperately to have something positive to say. And I echo how I started the blog post that the staff was friendly. They were friendly and smiling while breaking her body autonomy, they were kind in their tone as they broke HIPPA laws, they were chatting with my client jovially while leaving doors open and violating her sacred privacy. Kindness is nice, but so is not having your rights violated.
Methodist Richardson, you can do better, your patients deserve better.