The New Zealand Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal has found a midwife guilty of professional misconduct and ordered her to pay $10,000 in costs, as well as a $3,500 fine, after she knowingly withheld pain medication from her client.

Her client was in labour and requested pethidine for the pain. The midwife told her client that she was injecting pethidine, but deliberately chose to give the client a saline injection instead, as a placebo.

Over the course of the labour, the midwife administered 4 doses of saline whilst telling her client that it was pethidine. The midwife eventually administered the painkiller, nearly 4 hours after her client had initially requested it.

This conduct was said to have fallen seriously short of what could be considered acceptable and that it brought discredit to the profession.

The midwife had a duty to obtain consent before administering any medication and a duty to administer the correct medication if given consent, both of which she failed to do.