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Complaining about unsatisfactory antenatal care.

by Janelle Larson (follow)
I wrote this letter exactly a month before my second child was born.

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"To Whom It May Concern

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the treatment I received during my routine 37 week antenatal appointment this Wednesday, May 15.

I was seen by Dr . The way with which he conducted himself during our meeting was appalling, for the following reasons. I was spoken to in a manner which suggested I was incapable of making informed decisions about mine and my baby’s health.

What began as a spirited discussion and a difference of opinion escalated into him forcefully speaking over me when I was trying to make a point, under the guise of seeking my “informed consent”. I did agree to have a cannula inserted upon my arrival to L&D despite this being something I wish to avoid, after being verbally beaten into submission. My informed consent was not given- I was forced to accept an intervention I am not comfortable with, nor do I feel is necessary. I also did not appreciate the catastrophic language he was using to describe various scenarios. I did not feel my best interests were his top priority, but rather winning the argument, and bullying me into becoming a passive patient for his own convenience. The fact of the matter is, the care of a woman in labour after a previous LSCS should be little different than that of any woman in labour.

As an educated and confident woman, I have spent a great many months researching various medical studies regarding the safety of VBAC, and have made my decisions accordingly. In the majority of cases, such restrictions on the way in which I should labour, as are policy at this hospital, can have detrimental effects on the natural course of labour. I WILL NOT have my decisions so arrogantly scrutinized, nor be disrespected by being forced to explain my understanding of everything I have declined in great detail. I do not deserve, nor appreciate being forced to fight for my right to be treated with dignity and respect during my upcoming labour and birth.
I believe Dr has abused his position of power, and used fear mongering and scare tactics as a way of manipulating my decision-making process. He has attempted to undermine my confidence just weeks away from my due date, with statements such as “It’s highly likely you’ll need another c/section”, however, claiming to be practising evidence based care. I believe this is not the case, as baby and I are both in good health, my blood pressure is excellent, the baby is moving well, of cephalic presentation and also partially engaged in my pelvis. Based on these medical facts, I am a prime candidate for a successful VBAC. He also made reference to my first very traumatic birth which ended in my primary caesarean, implying that due to that experience, I should be more passive and accept policies I do not agree with. This was incredibly un-called for.

At the end of our consultation, Dr also implied that my failure to agree with him immediately and consent to abide by various policies was a waste of his time. He stated that I had taken up “double the normal consultation time”, but he felt that I “needed” the extra time in order to correct my incorrect assumptions. I found this extremely disrespectful. There was also a disparaging comment made in regards to television not being an accurate depiction of medical emergencies. Comments like these are unnecessary and frankly, insulting. The only person making assumptions was Dr , for the most part as to the level of my intelligence and ability to remain in control of what does or does not happen to me in labour.

In closing, it is my right as the birthing woman to refuse any and all medical interventions I deem inappropriate during my time under the care of a doctor. The most upsetting and outright untrue statement Dr made was that I “could not” refuse the cannula, and “would not be allowed” to labour indefinitely due to the risk (0.5%) of uterine rupture. (There is no evidence to support the theory that prolonged labour would cause me harm). Ironically, post partum haemorrhage was at no point discussed, despite its likelihood of occurrence being 30 times greater than that of a uterine rupture. Umbilical cord prolapse also was not mentioned, despite having a 1% incidence. I find it offensive that the most catastrophic scenarios are chosen to be wielded as power to control me as the patient. I will not accept this type of behaviour from a medical professional , whom I am supposed to trust. That trust has already been broken.

As such, Dr will not be permitted to attend to my care at any time during my stay at Hospital. I felt my birth preferences were set to be disregarded by him, my free will questioned, and my wishes ignored. No birthing woman needs to feel threatened by her care provider, and I will not tolerate such deplorable treatment now, during labour and birth, or after my baby is born.

Thank you for taking the time to hear my concerns. I trust they will be addressed promptly, and I look forward to your response at your earliest convenience.

Kind Regards,

Janelle Larson."

And that, my friends, is how you write a scathing letter of complaint. I hope you never need to write your own, but if you do- this is how you motivate them to treat you with respect.
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