October 14, 2022
The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) has become aware of a video depicting an interaction between an expectant Black mother and a nurse practitioner at the Philly Pregnancy Center. The patient had requested a note allowing her to be placed on maternity leave due to pain, but the nurse practitioner examined her and did not provide a note. The patient was then able to be examined by a doctor, who provided a note. The video depicts the ensuing confrontation in which the nurse practitioner proceeds to verbally accost and harass the patient in the lobby of the center.
The nurse practitioner’s conduct in the video is unprofessional, accusatory, and disrespectful. Her abusive behavior was a violation of the patient’s privacy of care and goes against the very basic standards of practice. The Standards for the Practice of Midwifery state: Midwifery Care Supports Individual Rights and Self-Determination and Respects Human Dignity, Individuality, and Diversity. Further, midwives support self-determination and shared decision-making, and uphold and facilitate the autonomy of all people to make informed health care decisions. Although this nurse practitioner is not a midwife, similar standards for the practice of nurse practitioners exist to hold them accountable. ACNM agrees with and stands by the American Nurses Association in condemning this unethical and unacceptable conduct.
According to the CDC, in 2020, the maternal mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women was 55.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, 2.9 times the rate for non-Hispanic white women. We are continually reminded that we are in a maternal health care crisis in which Black women are disproportionally affected and harmed. The failure to listen to Black women leads to high morbidity and mortality. This incident demonstrates how health care providers continue to exacerbate a system rife with implicit bias and racism.
ACNM supports the human rights and dignity of all people by respecting their civil rights and providing support for individual choice. Structural racism contributes to health disparities, and the effects of racism coupled with the inherent benefits of white privilege need to be addressed in midwifery education and practice. To reduce health disparities and create a culture of safety, actions must be centered on the identified needs and desires of members of affected communities. Midwifery is a profession that inherently promotes activism and supports opportunities for collective action for social justice.
Overcoming this harm starts with acknowledgement and education, and you can join us in this work. Visit www.midwife.org/deib for more information and resources.
Media Contact: Natalia Kimrey | [email protected]