Midwife charged with practicing medicine without a license
Ponca City Now - September 13, 2019 11:26 am
ROLAND – Attorney General Mike Hunter on Friday filed charges against a midwife for practicing medicine without a license, after an investigation revealed she performed a medical procedure during a recent home birth, after the victim was in labor for nearly three days.
Debra Disch, who was permanently banned from obtaining a license to practice as a midwife in Arkansas in 2016, is alleged to have performed an episiotomy on Elizabeth “Suzie” Bigler during her May birth in Oklahoma. She also administered Pitocin to slow the victim’s bleeding after giving birth. A search warrant of her residence also found five vials of the drug.
Although individuals in Oklahoma do not need a license to practice as a midwife and despite Oklahoma having no laws regulating midwives, individuals must have a medical license to perform an episiotomy and administer Pitocin.
Hunter said Disch was irresponsible and put the mother and her baby in a life-threatening situation.
“The details of this case are disturbing,” Hunter said. “Our evidence shows that Disch was reckless in the way she performed this procedure and she was entirely outside the scope of her abilities and the law. The mother and her baby are lucky to be alive. We hope these charges send the message to Oklahomans looking to hire a midwife to research and choose carefully. Given her troubled past in Oklahoma and Arkansas, we also hope this puts Disch out of business.
“We appreciate our law enforcement partners, who helped us with this investigation, including District Attorney Jack Thorp and his team in District 27 and the Roland Police Department.”
According to documents filed with the court, the victim’s family repeatedly urged Disch to call an ambulance when complications began arising. Disch refused each time.
The baby was born lifeless and had to be resuscitated. During the lifesaving procedure, witnesses claim Disch dropped the newborn. Following the birth, the mother began hemorrhaging uncontrollably and Disch administered two Pitocin shots to control the bleeding.
Pitocin is used to induce labor and also used to control bleeding. Pitocin is not a scheduled drug but is available by prescription only. Disch did not have a valid prescription for this medication in Oklahoma.
Emergency services were eventually called and Bigler and her baby were taken to the hospital, where they remained for several days.
A warrant has been issued for Disch’s arrest.