A midwife failed to provide sufficient medical attention to a woman with pre-eclampsia, the Health and Disability Commissioner has found.

Commissioner Anthony Hill found the midwife in breach of Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights (the Code) after she failed to identify and respond appropriately the woman's developing pre-eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia is a condition, characterised by high blood pressure, that if left untreated can lead to seizures that put a woman and her baby at risk, and in rare cases cause death.

The midwife was found in breach of the code after the 26-year-old pregnant woman she was caring for presented with symptoms of the condition several times but was not provided with sufficient treatment.


At a routine antenatal check with her midwife, she was found to have high blood pressure and to have been experiencing visual disturbances after which the midwife advised her of the symptoms of pre-eclampsia and told her to make contact if she experienced these symptoms.

She did not however advise the woman to consult a specialist and did not take additional steps to improve the woman's condition.

The following morning, the woman advised the midwife that she had experienced headaches and further visual disturbances.

The midwife asked the woman to report any further disturbances but did not arrange to assess the woman urgently in response to the symptoms reported, the Commissioner found.

That evening the woman began to experience contractions and was admitted to hospital where she met with the midwife.

Again the midwife noted the woman had high blood pressure but did not carry out any further assessments. She then left the room.

When she returned, the woman was feeling faint and her blood pressure was very high.

The on-call registrar was called, who then took over the woman's care.


In the report, released today, Mr Hill referred the midwife to the Director of Proceedings where it will be decided whether any proceedings will be taken.