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Student midwife is convicted of practicing medicine without a license

Katharine 'Katie' McCall, 37, delivered a baby in November 2007 without a licensed midwife present. McCall called a midwife, but she didn't show up and the mother declined to go to a hospital, McCall's attorney says.

August 19, 2011|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times
  • A midwife is required to have a license to deliver babies.
A midwife is required to have a license to deliver babies. (Los Angeles Times )

A student midwife has been convicted 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 Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court on one felony count after an investigation by the Medical Board of California's Operation Safe Medicine team, which probes allegations of unlicensed practice of medicine.

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 she "appeared to lack knowledge and experience," according to a medical board statement and Hubert Yun, the deputy district attorney who handled the case.

Yun said the mother met McCall when she was seven months pregnant. McCall, who was also a doula, or birthing coach, had a business for expectant mothers, Yun said, and told the woman she could give her a deal because she was a student midwife.

McCall assured the woman that she would contact a licensed midwife to supervise her when it came time for delivery, as required by state law. But when the woman went into labor, McCall 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" caused complications and "posed a danger and risk to the consumers of California."

McCall was licensed as a midwife June 24, 2010, with an address in Anaheim. Her license remains current, according to state records.

Her attorney, Stephen Demik, 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 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.

He said McCall is considering whether to appeal her conviction. She is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 16.

molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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