L.A. midwife convicted of practicing medicine without a license [Updated]
A student midwife was convicted this week of practicing medicine without a license after she delivered a baby without supervision, leading to medical complications, officials said.
Katharine “Katie” McCall, 37, was convicted on one felony count in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Wednesday after an investigation by the Operation Safe Medicine team at the Medical Board of California.
“The mission of the medical board is public protection, and this action reflects the board’s ongoing commitment to that mission,” said Linda Whitney, the medical board's executive director.
The investigation was triggered by a complaint from a witness who saw McCall deliver the baby Nov. 24, 2007 at the mother’s home and said McCall, “appeared to lack knowledge and experience,” according to a medical board statement and Hubert Yun, the deputy district attorney who handled the case.
McCall, who was also a doula, or birthing coach, had a business for expecting mothers, the Birth Connection, Yun said.
McCall told the woman that she could give her a deal because she was a student midwife, Yun said. When it came time for delivery, McCall assured the woman that she would contact a licensed midwife to supervise her, as required by state law.
However, when the woman went into labor Nov. 23, 2007, and called McCall, the student midwife made a phone call and said no midwives were available, Yun said.
A witness said the baby’s shoulder became stuck during the delivery, the mother suffered bleeding and a vaginal tear that was sutured improperly, Yun said.
Both mother and baby recovered fully, he said.
Medical board investigators found that McCall’s “negligence” during the delivery caused complications and “posed a danger and risk to the consumers of California.”
McCall did not respond to calls or email Thursday. She is due to return for sentencing Sept. 16, according to court records. She was licensed as a midwife June, 24, 2010, with an address in Anaheim, and her license remains current, according to state records. She is still listed as a licensed midwife and doula online.
[Updated at 5:04 p.m. She referred questions Thursday to her attorney, Stephen Demik.
Demik, who is based in Los Angeles and handled the case pro bono, said the medical board went after McCall even as they licensed her.
“There were no other complaints against Ms. McCall for the births she attended,” he said.
He said McCall had arranged for a midwife to supervise her, but the woman was at another birth when she called and did not show up. McCall then suggested the mother go to a hospital, but the woman declined, he said. He said the baby was not injured during the delivery and McCall stopped the mother’s bleeding.
“Ms. McCall acted in a good Samaritan capacity and because of what she did, she potentially saved two lives. She had no intention of practicing medicine without a license,” Demik said.
Demik said McCall is considering whether to appeal her conviction.]
The announcement of the conviction comes a week after Operation Safe Medicine investigators busted a West Hollywood plastic surgery center where a staff member posing as a doctor was performing laser treatments.
-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske
Photo: A midwife is required to have a license to deliver babies. Credit: Los Angeles Times