Criminal Justice

A midwife gets jail time in newborn's death

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Baby's foot.

A Utah midwife has been sentenced to six months in jail for a delivery that ended with the death of twin baby who was born prematurely.

Vickie Sorensen, 57, was sentenced on Tuesday, report the Salt Lake Tribune and the Washington Post. She was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter and reckless endangerment in an October jury trial.

Sorensen will also have to serve 36 months of probation and will be barred from practicing as a midwife.

Prosecutors had alleged that Sorensen used outdated techniques and equipment to treat the baby after he was born in 2012 without being able to breathe. They also said Sorensen failed to send the baby to the hospital right away. A doctor who testified said the twin would have lived if he had been born in the hospital.

Sorensen said she had ordered an IV before the birth to stop the mother’s contractions, but it didn’t work. At that point, she said, she went to her car to clear the snow to take the mother to the hospital. But when she returned to the birthing room, the mother was too far along with the delivery to transport her, Sorensen testified.

St. Louis University law professor Kelly Dineen tells the Salt Lake Tribune that criminal cases against health care workers are rare. When doctors are accused of malpractice, the first step is to take them before a licensure board. But Sorensen was unlicensed.

Utah has a program to license midwives, but a license is not required.

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