Thursday, February 16, 2006

I'll Take Mine To-Go

Some women's health stories are confusing, bizarre, and just plain disgusting - this is one of those. From the Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report: "The Oregonian on Sunday examined the Cascadia Placenta Registry, which, unbeknownst to many patients, collected placentas from as many as 700 women from hospitals in Oregon, California and Washington between 1996 and 2003." The Oregonian has the extraordinary details on the story. Among other details, the piece profiles Angela Desbiens, a mother who experienced pregnancy complications and whose daughter was born via emergency C-section. Unbeknownst to Desbiens,
...the hospital sent her placenta to a Portland institute created and financed by the insurance industry, in part to help health care providers defend against birth-injury lawsuits.

The pathologist at the institute, Cascadia Placenta Registry, analyzed the tissue and drafted a report contending that McKenna's cerebral palsy was caused by blood flow problems, not improper care.

It wasn't until Desbiens sued Providence, four years after the birth, that she first read the report and learned what had become of her placenta, the organ that transports blood, oxygen and nutrients to a fetus.
The Oregonian story reports that Cascadia is now called "Northwest Physicians Insurance Co.," but it seems to have been acquired by The Doctors Company. Among the gems on the DC website: "The combined use of new technologies and traditional guidelines is helping to replace the myth that "bad labor or delivery makes a bad baby" with the concept that a "bad baby makes a bad labor or delivery." The site includes guidelines for obstetric risk reduction, which essentially urge clinicians to perform childbirth as a process of defeating possibility liabilities.

The Kaiser summary mentions that laws may not have been broken, but let's call this what it is: hospitals taking one of the products of childbirth, without the mother's consent, in the interest of avoiding any possible responsibility for a bad outcome. How many women want their children's births viewed from this perspective?

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MeSH Tags: Defensive Medicine; Obstetrics/ethics OR /legislation and jurisprudence; Placenta;


Blogger Kat Coble said...

Isn't the placenta technically an organ? And doesn't it have potential health benefits? And isn't it chock-full of the DNA for both mother and baby?

To think, I was upset about the government having my DNA from a penny...

Unlike blood, mucus and other effluvia I thought the dispostion of the placenta should be up to the mother. Many women burn or bury them, some keep them, and I've heard of doulas who use them for curative purposes. I think seizing the placenta for any reason--let alone malpractice insurance--should be illegal.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Remind me to do something on placentophagy at some point....

8:42 PM  

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