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St. John’s mother whose child died unhappy with penalties for doctor who admitted mistakes


Crystal Whalen holds her daughter, Karlee, Jan. 19, 2019, at St. John’s Health Sciences Center. (Crystal Whalen/Facebook)

The mother of a child who died in 2019 is angry at the punishments her obstetrician received after acknowledging the mistakes she made during the delivery.

Crystal Whalen said the penalties for Dr. Krista Brown, announced last week, were not enough for the mistakes she made.

“It was a slap on the wrist for her and a slap on my face,” Whalen said.

In 2019, Brown was the doctor caring for Whalen, 38, who had her first child, a daughter named Karlee.

When you know it could have been avoided, it’s harder, and it’s hard not to be bitter, it’s hard not to be angry.– Crystal Whale

The child’s heart rate was elevated for a prolonged period on January 18. Karlee died shortly after giving birth the next day.

Whalen says she requested that Karlee be delivered by caesarean section on Jan. 18, but that didn’t happen.

She says she thinks Karlee would have survived if she had been delivered at that time.

“When you know it could have been avoided, it’s harder, and it’s hard not to be bitter. It’s hard not to be angry,” she said.

“Karlee should definitely have been delivered when the tachycardia [rapid heart rate] was picked up. The doctor was aware of this. She was aware of the fetal heart rate, the inability to capture contraction patterns and the patient’s level of discomfort and just ignored it.”

WATCH | Crystal Whalen says she still feels bitterness and anger over the death of her newborn baby:

St. John’s mother whose child died unhappy with penalties for doctor who admitted mistakes

After the death of her child, this mother is not satisfied with the sanctions against the obstetrician

Crystal Whalen tells CBC’s Mark Quinn that she still feels bitter and angry about the way Dr. Krista Brown handled her daughter’s delivery

After Karlee’s death, Whalen said, Brown did not speak to her or offer her condolences. She said it was up to her partner to tell her their child had died.

“Karlee’s dad left the room and then he came back and he said, ‘Our baby’s gone’ and I said, ‘No, that can’t be true. I looked at him and said ‘Are you kidding’ and he just shook his head no He was white as a ghost [and had] tears in the eyes. I will never take that image from my eyes,” Whalen said.

Brown was reprimanded for negligence at a hearing by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador on June 14.

An Agreed Statement of Facts which was read out at the hearing said:

“Dr. Brown acknowledges that the care she provided to the patient and, in particular, her failure to appreciate the significance of the fetal heart tracing of the patient’s granddaughter on January 18, 2019, and the consequent need for intervention urgent, demonstrated errors in judgment.”

St. John’s mother whose child died unhappy with penalties for doctor who admitted mistakes
Dr. Krista Brown has been licensed to practice medicine in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2008. (Krista Brown/Facebook)

Brown was reprimanded and ordered to pay for professional development courses on managing childbirth and communicating with patients. She was also ordered to pay $10,000 for the proceedings.

Whalen says that wasn’t enough.

“We lost… me, Karlee’s dad, our families, our friends,” she said. “But the one who lost the most was Karlee.”

She says restrictions should have been placed on Brown’s license to practice medicine.

“They should have said she couldn’t give birth while she was in school or she could do gynecology but you can’t do obstetrics, you can’t give birth anymore, or you can’t for a while. some time,” said Whalen

Whalen says she wrote to the college to say she is unhappy with the court panel’s decision.

Brown did not respond to CBC’s requests for comment.

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