Unlicensed midwife gets 12-year jail term for mother, baby deaths

18:45, October 14, 2009      

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A woman convicted of illegally practicing as a midwife and causing the death of a mother and baby was sentenced at an east China court to 12 years in jail, court authorities said Wednesday.

Luo Ying, a native of the southwestern Guizhou Province, pled guilty to causing the death of the 32-year-old mother surnamed Liu, but claimed the baby, a girl, was born dead, said an official with Binhu District Court in Wuxi city, Jiangsu Province.

Luo, 29, was summoned by the woman's family at 4 a.m. on May 12to help with the delivery before they had agreed on a fee for the call-out.

Luo told the court she had helped two other women give birth over the past year, charging only 30 yuan (4.4 U.S. dollars) each, compared with at least 1,000 yuan charged by most hospitals.

But Liu's baby was not breathing after its birth and never cried, she said. "I tried artificial respiration, but to no avail."

Court officials said Luo failed to take adequate measures when the new mother suffered a post-natal hemorrhage. "I saw she was very weak, so I gave her an amino acid injection," Luo said.

When the woman lost consciousness, her husband was forced to call an ambulance.

Panic-stricken, Luo told the woman's husband not to inform the authorities of her role in the case, and fled.

The woman died at hospital six hours after giving birth. Luo was caught by police within a week.

Luo told the court that she received a 10-month training as a nurse in her home province between 1997 and 1998, but she had no license to practice.

However, she began to practice in May 2008 in Wuxi, prescribingover-the-counter drugs to migrant workers from Guizhou Province, to earn a living.

The court also ordered Luo to pay the woman's family 177,000 yuan (25,932 U.S. dollars) in compensation and a 10,000-yuan fine.

Luo said she did not plan to appeal.

Unlicensed medical practices cause deaths and injuries in China every year, particularly in the countryside and among migrant workers in cities who sometimes choose cheap, illegal clinics over public hospitals.

The government unveiled a three-year plan on health care reform in April, hoping to lay a solid foundation for equitable and universal access to essential health care for all by 2020.

But high medical costs and an imbalance in the distribution of health care resources remain major challenges in the country's health care reform.

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