Friday, August 17, 2012

Dr. Biter

I heard about a home birth death with Dr. Robert Biter a few weeks ago but there weren't any details. Today, I saw this on Yelp:


Review from Amber L, dated 8/11/12:

My baby died 6 weeks ago because Dr. Biter was our doctor.  Any way I review the course of events, the result is always the same, this would not have happened with another doctor.  I chose him based on all these wonderful reviews on this site as well as word of mouth from women all over Encinitas.  I saw the couple of bad reviews here, but I thought, how can he be bad if  this many women go to him and rave about his care. There was very little information out there about his numerous malpractice suits and infractions with the medical board.  I wish that more people knew the truth then so that someone could have warned me about his reckless practice so my baby could have been delivered safely and lived.  This is why i am writing this review, so that other families won't have to go through what my husband and I are going through and so that no babies will lose their lives or be harmed by his inability to make the right call when things start going wrong.

Initially when I called to inquire about an appointment, I asked about his lack of privileges at any local hospital and was told that he was working on getting them back... I ended up seeing Dr. Cobb, who was so nice and seemed very caring, but he left the practice soon after I started going to Seaside Womens Health, so we started seeing Dr. Biter.   In December, when he asked where and how we wanted to deliver and we said, Scripps Encinitas, he said - "Oh i don't do that, but i am opening this amazing birth center very soon!"  He said it would have all the emergency equipment that a hospital would have with the exception of anesthesia.  So great!  Now we are all set to deliver at this birth center and decided to do it naturally.   Around April, he informed us that the birth center may or may not be ready - but that he performed home births, so that could be our plan B.  At first we were skeptical, but he made it sound so calm and serene and anyone i talked to who had homebirths thought that was their best birth experience ever, so finally we were pursuaded to take that approach.  He did not give us any risk factors for homebirth and said we would be transfered to a hospital as soon as we needed to be if anything came up that warranted it.  We live 2 minutes from Scripps Encinitas and thought that we were in good, safe hands because he is a doctor.  This turned out not to be the case.

I asked Dr. Biter repeatedly when it was no longer safe to do homebirth, especially as I became more overdue and labor hadn't started.  He said he wasn't worried and that he would tell me when he was, he did not however give me a list of risks allowing me to go so late nor did he indicate that homebirth was no longer a safe option for me. I was over 42 weeks when my water finally broke, after close to 30 hours of contractions.  

After my water broke, I was in labor 22 more hours during which a number of complications arose that were either ignored or downplayed by Dr. Biter, all of which  could have been dealt with effectively at the hospital.  I ended up in an ambulance transferring to the hospital after my baby's heartbeat was lost.  I also had a fever of 104 and was in danger of losing my uterus.  I was told that if he had gotten us to the hospital sooner, they would have given me antibiotics and our baby would have had a chance.  He died of a severe infection that had been present  for many hours.  I feel very betrayed.  You have to put your trust in your OBGYN, you have to trust them to tell you what to do during labor and trust that their advice is safe and cautious and with your's and your baby's best interest at heart.  I think his judgement is clouded, and he is just not able to make the necessary calls when faced with complications and life-threatening decisions.

I would highly recommend searching elsewhere for your prenatal care.  I will never forgive myself for not seeing the signs and entrusting delivery of my perfectly healthy little boy to him.  We will never get our little boy back, but hopefully his life can save the lives of other babies and moms by sharing our story.


So very sad :(

For those unfamiliar with Dr. Biter, he is/was a very popular doctor in the San Diego area. Here's one article about him..... feel free to Google him...

Update 8/17/2012:

To read about his current issues with the medical board and to read about his probation and suspension, click here. It's a very long document but read it. Disturbing. An easier-to-read version of the probation details is available here.

The probation and suspension decision was signed on May 15, 2012 but the suspension doesn't begin until September 7, 2012. The infant death of Amber L's baby occurred around July 1, 2012. Not sure what will happen to his license once the Medical Board learns of this infant death.

Update 8/29/2012:

The couple spoke to the news about their loss. You can read their story here. You don't get the full story from the news piece so reading it in conjunction with the Yelp review helps put the pieces together.

Update 10/21/2012:

Here's the latest being investigated by the Medical Board of California regarding the above home birth death (starts on page 12 of the document). It is very hard to read, very disturbing, extremely sad.

Update 01/04/2013:

Dr. Biter's license has been suspended indefinitely by the Medical Board of California due to the above home birth death. Same link above gives the details.

Update 12/02/2013:

Dr. Biter surrendered his medical license, effective November 26, 2013. "According the Medical Board’s order, Biter has now agreed that if he ever asks the Medical Board or any other health care licensing agency to reinstate his license or grant him a new license, “all of the charges and allegations” in that accusation will be considered true and correct and could be used against him in the application process." Click here to read more about it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hindsight is 20/20

Hi. I'm Danielle. I'm the owner and only writer of this blog. Thanks for stopping by to read what I have to share. I'm a thirty-something mother of two and wife to my one-and-only. Here's us:

But this is actually more like it:

I'm also a daughter, sister, friend and a few other things.

For my work outside of my home, I'm a certified birth doula and certified childbirth educator. I love witnessing, discussing, teaching and learning about childbirth. I believe I have learned quite a bit but don't consider myself to be an expert by any means. My views of birth have evolved from once being quite extreme to now being more middle-of-the-road.

Your comments are welcome on my blog - I don't moderate or delete them, but I do ask that you keep them appropriate. I read each of them even if I don't respond. If you ask me any questions directly via comments, I try my hardest to respond. If you have a note or story to share that you don't feel comfortable leaving in the comments, you can email me at douladani1 at gmail dot com.

There were several reasons why I decided to write my original post and to start this blog.

More than anything (much, much more), it's been cathartic for me to write - it's been a way for me to process certain things. I went from someone who desperately wanted a home birth and thoroughly believed in it and it's safety down to my core; to someone who no longer felt it was the safest option for me and questioned the safety of home birth as a whole in our country. It was a huge change of heart and mind... and there was definitely some pride that had to be swallowed... and writing it out really helped me understand why things changed so drastically for me. A lot of people find comfort in writing - it has always been something that works for me (my husband and friends/family can attest to this as they have all been on the receiving end of one of my many long-winded emails or letters!).

But this blog has also helped me shed some guilt I had (and still have) about certain things.

I have to to say that there was a certain amount of selfishness in my desire to have a home birth. Please note - I am not saying that every or any woman who has a home birth shares these same feelings or desires. I'm truly only speaking for myself. 

Of course my selfish desires were not major factors in my decision to have a home birth - I had read so much literature and I was truly and absolutely convinced home birth was the safest option for me and my baby. My little selfish desires were more just the icing on the cake or the cherry on the sundae, if you will. But they were still there... and I have guilt about that... guilt that those desires even existed to a point that they were a part of my driving force, even if they were a very small part of it. Had it worked out for our first birth to take place at home as I was hoping, if anything would have happened to my baby, even as small as those desires were, I know that they would have haunted me forever.

My former attitude that I had regarding childbirth in general - and parenthood, too - affected several aspects of my life... and it greatly affected my perception of my hospital birth experience.

After giving birth at our hospital, I knew that the experience was good for the most part (for example, our nurse was so phenomenal that I brought her chocolates at work a couple weeks later) - but I still had some things to complain about. It took me a while to realize it but I went into that birth at the hospital wanting to hate it so badly. So man, did I pick it apart afterwards. I overlooked all the positives and went right for the negatives - and there weren't very many negatives, but I sure clung on to them. My attitude was just bad. I'm honestly surprised that my OB continued to be as friendly as she was and is to me!

It wasn't until I started to learn more about childbirth and attend more births - specifically home births - that I started to realize how nice my experience was after all. I realized that certain aspects of my birth would have been handled in relatively the same way regardless if I were at home or at the hospital. What was I so bent out of shape about? I'll be honest, certain complaints were due to downright ignorance. I'm too embarrassed now to admit some of the things I found to complain about....

As months went by I started to process my birth more and more.... and I felt very guilty for the person I was around that time in my life. Several months ago I remember sitting and crying to two of my friends over the guilt I felt for painting such a horrible picture of my birth experience at our hospital.... I couldn't help but wonder if anything I had said or so foolishly complained about made other women fear giving birth in a hospital.

It's amazing how much our attitude can affect our perception of things.

It wasn't just my birth experience that my attitude affected. It started to mold and take shape of a pretty judgmental and know-it-all person. Who was I becoming? I had an opinion about everything childbirth-related and boy did I sure think that everyone cared about it! I found myself pitying moms so often, "poor thing, she just doesn't know how bad her birth experience was / how wrong it is to do this or that / etc."

I never stopped to think.... why the heck does it matter to me how other women choose to give birth? Who cares what "parenting method" other parents choose to utilize or if they use any "method" at all? Who cares if other moms breastfeed? The list goes on......

But while I'm at it.... breastfeeding is another perfect example. I feel passionately about breastfeeding, I do. But for me to judge other women for not breastfeeding is not right. I have no idea what their journey has been like. I have no idea the reasons they have for breastfeeding or bottle feeding. I have no idea if there is a physical problem that makes breastfeeding not an option. I have no idea if they desperately wanted to breastfeed but didn't have the money or resources to get passed certain obstacles they may have faced. I didn't know if they needed to be on certain medications that aren't compatible with breastfeeding. Hey, I didn't know if someone just didn't want to breastfeed - it's as much a woman's choice to breastfeed as it is her choice to decide where to give birth, right? I didn't know any of those things but it didn't keep me from judging women if I saw them bottle feeding. Why?

Why I didn't I ever stop to think, "this doesn't affect me or my family, so who cares?" So much wasted energy on caring too much about things that were none of my business.

What was with my attitude? Why did this "stuff" consume me so much? Why did I feel so.... superior?

I know part of it is b/c I felt it validated me, sadly enough. It made me feel like I was doing it "the right way" when I knew other moms who did things the way I was doing them. Parenting is a big deal... it's the biggest deal.... you are raising another human being and you are their guardian and protector and how the heck are we supposed to know if we're doing a good job? We don't have a boss to praise us or a promotion to get when we are excelling.... how do we know if we're not messing up?! So it's a nice feeling of "ok good, they do this or that and they are smart and nice people, so it must be a good thing what we're doing this or that, too!"

Validation wasn't all of it, though. I don't know what it was. Perhaps just the thrill of feeling like I was "right" and others were "wrong." Perhaps in feeling like I was doing things the more "challenging" way then it made it seem more rewarding. I don't know. But I'm ashamed of that person now. That's not the person I want to be the mother to my children.

There's a happy medium out there regarding childbirth and parenthood and the attitudes we have about them. I'm striving to get there.

I'm starting out with a simple yet rational realization: I... am not better... than anyone else.

Except for the fact that I'm a redhead. Obviously.

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