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Woman Has Hospital Birth, Dies of Meningitis

Posted May 30 2009 12:12am

An otherwise healthy young woman entered a hospital to give birth. She contracted bacterial meningitis, was transferred to another hospital, and died.

While many people around the blogosphere has been pointing to the death of homebirth advocate Janet Frazer’s baby with a gigantic, “See?…See?!” (followed by a “Na-na-na-na-boo-bo!” ), this, too can be an example of how even hospitals can– gasp! –royally screw things up.

Actually, 2 moms were infected in the maternity ward at Ohio’s Mary Rutan Hospital. Now, both the hospital and the CDC are baffled by the cases:

Babies were healthy, moms were healthy.

Well, the moms were healthy when they arrived. Not so much after giving birth.


Soon, both were complaining of headaches and nausea. They were moved to the ICU and then later to another hospital for further treatment, where 30-year-old Susan Finch Ryan Simpson died. She leaves behind a husband and two daughters, one a 14-month-old and the other a healthy newborn.

Meanwhile, the public is being reassured about these cases. The staff has quarantined the supplies and medications used during both deliveries and are working with state and federal health experts to find out what went wrong. Some hospital staff were also tested.

Though the cause of the infections isn’t known yet, officials say that it is not the common type of meningitis, Neisseria meningitides, that transfers easily between people.

The ladies did not share a room and did not know each other.

The only commonality is both received spinal anesthesia.

Now an 11-month-old in the area also has meningitis that officials say is unrelated, as it is apparently a different strain. It is not clear whether the child was also a patient at the hospital, because of federal privacy laws. (Privacy laws for the hospital or patient?)

May I say it again? Hospitals are for sick people. The act of bringing life into this world does not inherently make one “sick”.

Let’s remember how safe home birthing is, shall we?

Image: baliston on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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