I just read a post at Kevin, MD by an “anonymous NICU nurse” suffering from a syndrome that occasionally appears in clinical types, an acute combination of naïveté and delusions of grandeur. The subject was the recent experience of Sarah Capewell:
Sarah Capewell gave birth to a baby son when she was 21 weeks and 5 days into her pregnancy. Her pleas to doctors and midwives to admit the newborn to a special care baby unit were rejected … if her son Jayden had been born two days later, at 22 weeks, they would have tried to help him.
NHS guidelines say a preemie is not to receive intensive care if it is ”below 22 weeks gestation.” This baby was breathing, but the bureaucratic guidelines say that’s irrelevant. Our anonymous nurse (and this is where the naïveté comes in) huffs:
Comparing not saving a 21 week fetus to rationing health care is a ludicrous argument. It has nothing to do with trying to save money.
Oh really? One would have to BE an infant to believe that the NHS apparatchiks who formulated the 22-week cutoff didn’t calculate the ROI associated with treating a 21-week preemie. Because they certainly did so, it is rationing plain and simple.
Now for the delusions of grandeur. Our anonymous NICU nurse advises us that it was not merely OK to let the preemie die. She says that, by doing so, the NHS was actually doing the baby a favor: “Letting Jayden die was a Justice for Jayden.” On her own blog, she goes further:
Because the majority of NICU nurses do not agree with the concept of resuscitating any infant born alive, no matter what the gestational age, this does not make us heartless baby killers. It makes us realists. It makes us compassionate. It makes us heroes.
Here’s a clue for our nameless nurse. Whether it is right, medically or morally, to resuscitate a preemie IS NOT YOUR CALL. Neither the patients nor their parents give a rat’s ass about your pompous and solipsistic opinions. They just want you to do your damn job—provide medical care.
If I seem a little agitated about this, it is because my eldest daughter was a preemie. She is now a beautiful and healthy 28-year-old woman living happily ever after because her doctors and nurses didn’t (thank God) suffer the delusions that afflict this nurse. They just did their jobs.