I recent hearings, two obstetricians, Dr. Evelyn Anna Ruelaz of Fairfax County and Dr. Regina Burton of Woodbridge, received formal reprimands for the handling of births which resulted in devastating, lifelong personal injuries to infants while they were being delivered.
The reprimands go on the permanent record of a doctor and appear on his or her public profile at www.vahealthprovider.com/search.asp. No monetary penalties come from the reprimands and they have no effect upon a doctor’s ability to practice.
The sanctions reflect a tougher scrutiny of cases of injury during birth. The threshold for punishment was reduced by changes in 2003, which was after both incidents occurred.
A total of 209 sanctions were issued in the year 2006 by the board among 34,813 holders of Virginia medical licenses. However, until these cases, no sanctions had ever been made in birth-act generated cases.
Lee Ann Hershberger related to a medical board panel how her son was born, unable to ever care for himself after she was left unattended for long periods of time by Ruelaz.
According to records, for hours Hershberger labored alone at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital as the heart rate of her baby slowed and oxygen was shut off to him in utero due to multiple medical complications.
Her son is now age 4 and requires 24-hour care because of cerebral palsy, no coordinated use of his limbs, and inability to speak.