Sacramento Midwife Awaits Final Decision in BRN Court Case

A final ruling in the battle between the California Board of Registered Nursing and Ruth Cummings, a midwife in Sacramento has been postposted for a month. Cummings has been accused of gross negligence and unprofessional conduct in the stillbirth of a one of her clients.

According to the 2013 allegations, Cummings failed to diagnose labor in one of her clients during a phone conversation in 2010. The client suffered a still birth three days later in an emergency room. Cummings was placed on three years of medical probation by an administrative law judge in November 2014.

Cummings, a Certified Nurse Midwife, opened The Birth Center in Santa Rosa, California in 2000 which is touted as the “only freestanding, midwifery-operated birthing center in Sacramento.” She had previously worked as a Registered Nurse in the ICU and earned a BS/MS in nursing at UCSF School of Nursing.

Susan Fischer Wilhelm, PhD, testified in Cummings favor after Cummings successfully delivered her baby. She said it was unclear whose side would win but after her testimony she felt celebratory. An additional 86 people had filed declarations to support Cummings which included several past clients.

Judge Timothy Frawley postponed his verdict to mull over responses to seven questions about miscarriage that were asked of parties on both sides of the case.

Parties on both sides of the case are anxiously awaiting a decision. A ruling in favor of Cummings would be a relief to other out-of-hospital midwives who fear the same type of repercussion. On the other hand, a ruling in favor of the BRN would most likely cause a closure of The Birth Center and cause additional roadblocks for midwives.

In a similar case, certified nurse-midwife Yelena M. Kolodji was accused in 2015 of having improper supervision in her home-birth practice. The judge ruled in her favor writing that “the BRN had ‘acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner.’”

A ruling in Cummings case is expected in the next few weeks.


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