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Woman Has Hospital Birth, Dies of Meningitis

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.

[social_buttons]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.


  1. That is tragic. And a reminder that hospitals are for SICK people. Not healthy pregnant women giving birth. Truly tragic. This makes me really sad and grateful that I had access to a wonderfully trained midwife and gave birth in the comfort, safety and cleanliness of my own home.

  2. This is definitely sad. It’s also a weird coincidence for me because my grad class is currently reading _The Rhetoric of Midwifery_, which basically talks about how the medical INDUSTRY in this country has strategically issued statements using carefully planned language in order to scare people away from births administered by midwives.

  3. Homebirth midwives are consistently fighting for our rights as women to allow out of hospital births for the women and families who seek alternative maternity services. Home birth is the safest option in normal, healthy pregnancies.
    When we fight for our rights to practice and for womens rights on birth, we are constantly having to “prove” ourselves as competent practitioners. We readily gather statistics and share our birth outcomes with other birth professionals and to help establish home birth midwifery in our western culture. The OB/GYN and hospitals DO NOT have to report their birth outcomes to anyone and this is a MAJOR problem when considering the safest place to birth. I recommend anyone interested in this break down in health care to visit, Ina May Gaskin;s website: http://www.rememberthemothers.net Also known as The Safe Motherhood Project.
    Love and Light,
    Homebirth Midwife

  4. I know of three cases where people I love tried home birth and terrible things went wrong and they had NO idea how to fix them. My niece is a miracle-they rushed my sis-in-law to the hospital after my niece TORE out of her and the doctors saved her and my sis-in-law. Another friend was sexually molested by her midwife and had to confront the incident. And, my third friend got “stuck” (literally) trying to give birth to her 10 pound baby. It couldn’t happen- she finally quit trying to be a heroine and went to the hospital where they delivered her child. There is no right answer for all. I would never try home birth with these being the 3 stories that I personally know. I am glad to realize that it did work for some of you though.

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