Midwife Darlene Curtis has been charged with unprofessional conduct, says the Washington Department of Health, after her delay in submitting a blood test contributed to a newborn’s medical condition being diagnosed too late to save him from permanent neurological impairment.
In the official Statement of Charges, it is claimed that Curtis attended the birth of a child, identified for privacy reasons as Patient A, in her Everett, Washington, birthing center. The next day a licensed practical nurse, or LPN, in Curtis’ employ visited the newborn at home and performed a heel stick test. The nurse then took the test back to the birthing center where it languished for approximately 4 days before being sent to the lab.
In the meantime, the baby’s parents reportedly became worried that his “eyes and face were yellow” and that he didn’t seem to be feeding. At that time, say Department officials, Curtis should have scheduled an appointment to see the child but she did not.
Five days later Patient A’s parents took him to see his pediatrician who referred the baby to the hospital. At no time, say officials, had Darlene Curtis actually seen the baby about the apparent jaundice.
Ultimately, the baby tested positive for a disorder known as galactosemia. In plainspeak, Patient A was unable to convert a sugar in breast milk into a usable form of sugar and was storing that sugar in his brain. And that, say officials led to permanent sensory damage, permanent neurological damage and cerebral palsy.
Darlene Curtis’ 1999 Allegations
This was not the first time a Statement of Charges had been filed against Curtis. Back in the late summer of 1999 Curtis allegedly “failed to adequately monitor” a patient’s contractions, which had been medically stimulated, resulting in a birth in which the newborn had to be resuscitated and reportedly suffered from neurological damage as a result of anoxia, or lack of oxygen.
In another 1999 case Curtis allegedly “failed to adequately monitor a patients’ blood pressure, even though the patient had a history of hypertension and was on medication for the condition. That pregnancy resulted in a stillbirth.
Both the 1999 Statement of Charges and the 2017 Statement of Charges are publicly available online.
Curtis does not appear to have made a public statement on the case.