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October 15, 2009

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Midwife faces charge in death of mom, child

A MIGRANT midwife who allegedly caused the death of a mother and her newborn child has been arrested on a charge of illegal medical practice, prosecutors in Shanghai's Jiading District said yesterday.

If convicted, the 40-year-old will face a minimum prison term of 10 years.

This latest case comes as authorities are engaged in a crackdown on unlicensed medical facilities, which attract patients with low fees but provide inadequate - and often dangerous - services.

The suspect, surnamed Zhang, had studied for a year in a junior medical school in an undisclosed location outside the city. She opened a private clinic without a license in Jiading District in 2003 and assisted mothers in delivering their babies, prosecutors said.

On February 20, 2007, an expectant mother surnamed Chen, who was in her 30s, sought assistance at Zhang's clinic.

Zhang injected Chen with oxytocin, a hormone that hastens delivery, the next afternoon and a boy was born an hour later, prosecutors said.

But the infant emerged with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, and he died, despite Zhang's efforts to save the child, prosecutors said.

Chen began feeling sick and was allegedly given only brown sugar water.

She wasn't sent to a hospital until her husband came to the clinic later and found she was in critical condition, prosecutors said.

Doctors said Chen was unconscious after suffering a massive hemorrhage.

She died late that night in spite of emergency medical treatment.

Medical experts concluded that the deaths of the infant and the mother were caused by Zhang's lack of medical knowledge.

Reacting to similar cases, city government began a campaign targeting illegal medical practices at the beginning of last month, with the health department, police and urban management officials joining in the crackdown.

So far this year, about 40 illegal doctors have been caught by city health supervision agencies for repeated offenses and transferred to authorities for prosecution.


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