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:

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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.



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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.

29 comments:

  1. Maybe I'm a little naive, but why the hell does this guy still have a License??

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    1. He doesn’t! But now he is opening a birthing center in Encinitas, CA tomorrow. Just HORRIBLE.

      http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Couple-Who-Lost-Baby-to-Protest-Birth-Center-277114711.html

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  2. Truly tragic... I hope these parents can forgive themselves, they fell for a terrible con- weren't the first and surely, sadly wont be the last.

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    1. I hope they can forgive themselves, too. So tragic :(

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  3. I'm not positive, but I suspect the death would need to begin an entirely new complaint and investigation. It would not be considered a violation of his probation, of course.

    I'm not a lawyer, but if the Yelp story is accurate, and he did claim they would be able to give birth in his birth center, I'd say there's a case to be made for fraud (although I suspect it would be hard to prove.) I've seen no evidence anywhere that the birth center is anywhere close to being ready. Moreover, the associated and baby boutique that's been open for more than a year (or perhaps two--I'm too lazy to check) closed in June.

    The "I Love Dr. Biter' Facebook page has said nothing about Dr. Biter since March; it has mostly become a place for people to advertise their services, stump for their pet causes, or look for "(anti) vaccine-friendly" pediatricians.

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    1. It is too bad his suspension wasn't effective immediately, back in May... :(

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  4. My heart goes out to these parents - who should not blame themselves!

    My sister is having a home birth for her second, and is currently 13 days overdue. She is under the care of a midwife however. She was 17 days overdue with her first (who was born at a hospital). I think the main thing is that you must feel confident in whomever you choose to deliver your baby. ANY inkling of doubt and parents should run!

    If he didn't have privileges at local hospitals, that would have scared the heck out of me and sent me screaming in the other direction. There is a reason privileges are revoked.

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    1. Sounds like he had some good excuses for not having hospital privileges. I've heard he is a very charismatic guy and, up until March, had a huge group of supporters in the San Diego area (he still probably has some supporters....). In hindsight, we can all look at certain things in our past and go "oh that was a red flag" but it's hard to see those red flags in the moment. Those poor parents thought they were making the best choice. I, too, hope they do not blame themselves - they absolutely should not. He took advantage of them.... they weren't even planning on a home birth.... my heart breaks for them.

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  5. Here is a link to the medical board records about Biter

    http://www2.mbc.ca.gov/LicenseLookupSystem/PhysicianSurgeon/document.aspx?path=%5CDIDOCS%5C20120329%5CDMRAAADE42%5C&did=AAADE120329173337500.DID&licenseType=A&licenseNumber=77870
    http://www2.mbc.ca.gov/LicenseLookupSystem/PhysicianSurgeon/document.aspx?path=%5CDIDOCS%5C20120329%
    www2.mbc.ca.gov

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    1. Hi Liza, thanks, I have them linked above in my blog post :)

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  6. Did you see this?http://m.nbcsandiego.com/nbcsandiego/pm_107837/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=96jT3aHY&rwthr=0

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    1. No, I didn't see that until last night when you posted it. Thank you for sharing it! I will add it to my post.

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  7. I'm sorry, but I just can't let the parents off the hook. Losing a child is a terrible, terrible thing and I don't wish them more hardship than they already are facing BUT the reason obstetrics is so messed up in our culture is that parents do not take responsibility for their births. They simply rely on the experts - even to the extent that they ignore their sometimes very strong gut instincts to not trust/rely on what those "experts" are telling them. The simple red flags in the post are pretty common knowledge (or easily found out) - going with a doctor w/o hospital privileges?, the risks of going past due? the risks of rupture of membranes longer than 18 hours? The average length of a normal labor? The situation here is the same for the woman in the hospital that is coerced into an unnecessary cesarean.....we refuse to stand up to authority even when we know better. The tragedy is that these parents lost their child.

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    1. I just started teaching as a childbirth educator. What may seem pretty obvious to some, is not to others. I have been teaching at a nice hospital, my "students" have been intelligent, well-educated expectant parents... and many of them have not known the risks after ROM, the average length of labor, the risk going past due, etc.

      This doctor has had a very, very good reputation in the San Diego area up until the past several months. Even after he was fired (then reinstated then resigned), he had a HUGE following and was VERY loved by many in the SD area. Many people had theories as to why he no longer had hospital privileges that favored the doctor, not the hospital. It wasn't until the med board info became available that people started to see that he might not be Dr. Wonderful afterall.

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    2. Danielle is right- there were a lot of theories floating as to why he was suspended and none of them had to do with him being a poor doctor. People were still very much supporting him and blaming it all on the hospital. I was a gyn patient of Dr. Biter but chose to follow one of his his partners, Dr. Cap when he left Biter. Cap delivered our youngest baby- a hypnobirth VBAC that was incredibly respectful of our wishes- however when complications arose- and they did- Dr. Cap remained supermely calm and just said- there has been a change of plans and I need you to do what I ask- I trusted him completely and told him I would do as told- I soon had a healthy baby in my arms. Despite the chanegs that needed to be made to our plan I knew they were made in the interest of our child and not becasue it was easier or faster for our doctor. He made the tough calls that some other doctors would not have and when I tell the story to midwives they literally swoon over what he did to safely deliver us. Moreover I have heard stories of him attending midwife meetings just for the experience. Cap is a wonderful doctor who actually delivers on all the promise of dr. Wonderful, being a proponent of safe natural birth that is all about patient care and respecting parent's wishes as long as they are safe and doesn't give a fig for the flash that seemed so important to Dr. Biter. and btw DR Cap was always there for me. His pregnant wife drove in on a Sunday to help me bc I thought I had a bladder infection. When my husband insisted I call regarding my intermittent pains during the first trimester- that turned out to be gas- on a Sunday afternoon Dr. Cap didn't blink but rather told my husband he should watch our toddler and let me spend the day sleeping (for gas!!). He insisted I call if I even thought we were close and we did- he had us call at intervals and always asked a series of questions during labor including whether I would be happier at the hospital or at home and this allowed me to labor longer in the comfort of my home (made it to 7 1/2 cm before I came in) and when I was in the hospital I was able to sleep thru most of my labor.
      Dr. Cap is wonderful, his lovely wife runs the office- you can be sure there is no inappropriate groping going on there. Still he is a very warm person and he has hugged me before- but never in a way that made me uncomfortable. My kids adore him and he was actually one of the first doctors to notice that my eldest (not delivered by him) seemed to possibly be on the spectrum (ding ding ding he was right) he wasn't overbearing about it but asked if he had been screened and never said a word when I told him that our son had been diagnosed- but I rememebred that he had asked when I had shared with him the troubles I was having with him. He was also candid about his own choices regarding vaccines etc for his own children- which is all I wanted a doctor to do- give me their honest opinion instead of towing the company line or jumping on some sort of whole herted natural bandwagon- we don't have to do everything all one way, kwim?
      During my first appointment with Biter he hugged and held my hands with such intimacy that at one point I asked him if he had mistaken me for a patient he knew better becasue I couldn't believe a person who had just met me would be sooooo physical with me- it wasn't sexually inappropriate by any means but just weird- and I am a total hugger so for me to say that- it was weird.

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  8. Update 12/2012

    http://www2.mbc.ca.gov/LicenseLookupSystem/PhysicianSurgeon/document.aspx?path=%5cDIDOCS%5c20121219%5cDMRAAAEC11%5c&did=AAAEC121219234233826.DID&licenseType=A&licenseNumber=77870#page%3D1

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    1. Thank you, I appreciate the help staying current with this news.... b/c it sadly doesn't seem to be stopping. Why??! I think the link you provided is the same as I have above under the October update but I'll have to read it closely to make sure, I just glanced at it. Thank you.

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  9. I am confused about this doctor. According to a friend who is friends with him, he has opened or is in the process of opening a birthing center, Babies by the Sea Birthing Center. Yet, after googling and reading this... his license is suspended! I even checked with the state board. Do you know, has he been cleared? Or is this another attempt to pull the wool eyes over his potential patients? Thank you for any help.

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    1. The last I read about Dr. Biter, his license has been suspended indefinitely. I have links to the Medical Board above. I wouldn't hold your breath for his birth center to open....

      I don't know him personally. I am sharing "the other side" of the story b/c (too) many think he lost his hospital privileges b/c of his popularity (or some trivial claim like that). Reality is, he had 7 separate SERIOUS issues investigated by the Medical Board. Link is provided above for the details of his negligent care as investigated by the Medical Board but here it is again:
      http://www2.mbc.ca.gov/LicenseLookupSystem/PhysicianSurgeon/document.aspx?path=%5CDIDOCS%5C20120329%5CDMRAAADE42%5C&did=AAADE120329173337500.DID&licenseType=A&licenseNumber=77870#page=1

      There is a separate investigation with the Med Board for the above tragic home birth death.

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    2. It it true! I CAN NOT BELIEVE there is ANY support for this birth center!!! It’s opening this Saturday and has already been flagged and covered by the area news. Please, please, please create awareness that all families should know the history of this person. Very sad. VERY dangerous.

      This is the recent news coverage as of this week (Sep. 25, 2014):
      http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Couple-Who-Lost-Baby-to-Protest-Birth-Center-277114711.html

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  10. Dr. Biter's license was surrendered, according to the medical board of California.

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  11. I am a former patient of Biter's and I was shocked to have recently heard of the tragedies that have occurred under his watch. I only went to him to care for my female needs and not to have a baby, so I can only speak about that: I needed a surgery for an extremely large cyst and everything went through fine. He was late by a couple of hours and that was irritating, especially when you can't eat for the entire day before surgery. I also had some other issues that were very heartbreaking and he was there and compassionate. I cannot fault him for that.

    Although, I will be honest that even back then (this was nearly 6 or 7 years ago) I wouldn't have hired him to have my baby because he was always late and cancelled appointments quite regularly (I had multiple jobs and every hour counts). Just that alone was unacceptable for me considering now that I have had a baby and the latest ANY doctor, midwife, and healthcare professional I've visited here in Europe has only been max 15 minutes late.

    As far as my perspective of midwives go: In Europe, nurse midwifes have totally different legal and professional standing - they actually run the show here in the hospitals. I've also had some great OBGYNs in the delivery room and my main OBGYN take care of me with 110% attention and bedside manner in conjunction with the nurse midwives. They worked together as a team - it was cool and inspiring to see them work naturally and respectfully together in the hospital. I left feeling that I was cared for completely during and after my complicated and long natural delivery. (Side note: I was followed during and after my pregnancy by a stellar and well-known nurse midwife and even she recommended against a home birth). With my experience, if I went back to the States I would ensure to research the hospital and the standing physicians there FIRST and then find a good nurse midwife and OBGYN to follow me throughout and after my pregnancy. My midwife and OBGYN were not there during my delivery and that was standard procedure and it was not a problem. I know Biter was huge into natural birthing and all of the touchy feely stuff. Knowing what I know now with my experience, I see that natural, drug-free birthing and modern medicine CAN go hand in hand without loss of precious life. Education, protections, and cultural understanding need to progress in order to avoid tragedies like this.

    Back to the point, my heart breaks for that beautiful family who lost their gorgeous baby - and the other mothers and women, too. I think Biter giving up his license was the best thing for all. If someone asks if I had a good experience with him as a surgeon, I have to say I did. I can't lie and re-write history. Can I speak on his baby catching skills? Absolutely not.

    With that said, it's disappointing that Biter failed these women and babies greatly. Am I *that* surprised? No. Even back then, he was spreading himself thin and not focusing on his work at a certain point after he had helped me out. It's just sad all around. I hope he can turn things around and focus on what really matters: honoring life.

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  12. Biter was our doctor and failed to notice that our baby had anencephaly after many, many ultrasounds. He was suspended 6 days before we found out from a different OBGYN that our baby boy had anencephaly. I was in my 5th month of pregnancy. The new doctor was shocked that Biter didn't notice, he should have seen it at 12 weeks. He's incompetent as a doctor and I'm very happy that his license is gone.

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  13. Robert Biter has opened his birth center, and is scheduled for a grand opening on September 27, 2014. How is this even possible?!

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    1. It's outrageous!! At least he won't be delivering babies. I believe he is just working behind the scenes and not with women. B/c he can't.

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  14. just so you know, since you have been foloowing his incidents, he is actually opening the birth center next weekend here in San Diego, in Encinitas, CA...he has somehow managed to do so and it is completely incredible that he is still wanting to pick the pockets of these women even more. We are trying to help spread the word and stop him. He has somehow managed to get in contact with Oprah which makes it even more serious since he feels like what he is doing is practically approved by someone like Oprah. Here is his facebook page of his birth center. We need to stop this man and help spread the word. https://www.facebook.com/babiesbytheseabirthingcenter

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  15. There is also a protest being organized:

    https://www.facebook.com/stoprobertbiter

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