A New Zealand woman was repeatedly told what she was feeling was “pressure not pain” when she complained of excruciating pain at the beginning of her c-section procedure. When she broke down crying from the pain and asked the anesthetist for more pain relief, she was told that drugs would “harm the baby.”
The woman testified today at a Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal hearing, regarding the incident that happened in 2013. Not only does she allege she was denied relief when she complained of pain during her c-section, she also alleges she was denied pain relief after the procedure. Stuff.nz reports “The woman herself, another doctor, midwife, and a nurse also repeatedly raised concerns about the pain.” There were also warning signs the drugs hadn’t worked, which included her ability to feel pinching, ice and, later, “involuntarily kicking one of her legs.” The prosecuting lawyer claims “the anesthetist remained “disinterested,” insisting the woman was experiencing pressure, not pain, and a natural birth would be worse.”
Yikes. Pretty sure it’s not up to him or her to decide that — and why would you say something like that while someone is on an operating table? Isn’t a huge part of an anesthetist’s job assessing pain?
Anyone who’s been through a c-section will probably agree that the preparation and anesthesia is one of the most stressful parts of the whole endeavor. Imagine being on an operating table and having the person who is supposed to be managing your pain argue with you about the pain you’re in? Nightmare. The anesthetist faces three charges relating to care of the woman: failing to ensure enough pain relief before the procedure, failing to communicate with his patient to assess her pain, and failing to alleviate her pain.
The woman was told by her doctors that she will not be able to conceive naturally and the thought of another c-section terrifies her. Who can blame her? In an earlier decision from the Health and Disability Commissioner, the nurse was described as displaying a “striking lack of empathy.” Those are probably the last words anyone wants describing someone whose job it is to be sure they remain pain-free during and after surgery.
“My pain was very real and of a totally unacceptable level during abdominal surgery. To have my complaints downplayed as ‘pressure’ is unacceptable.” This anesthetist would make a great horror film villain. But maybe he or she should stay away from real-life operating rooms.