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Dem candidate Lyerly reprimanded for delivering baby late

By: Bridgetower Media Newswires//April 11, 2024//

Kristin Lyerly

Dr. Kristin Lyerly addresses supporters during her campaign announcement on Thursday, April 4, 2024, at Hinterland Brewery in Ashwaubenon, Wis. Lyerly is running as a Democrat for the 8th Congressional District seat vacated by Rep. Mike Gallagher. Tork Mason/USA Today NETWORK-Wisconsin

Dem candidate Lyerly reprimanded for delivering baby late

By: Bridgetower Media Newswires//April 11, 2024//

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By Daniel Bice, [email protected]

Democratic congressional candidate Kristin Lyerly is holding up her medical credentials front and center in her bid for the seat soon to be vacated by U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher.

Lyerly, an obstetrician and gynecologist, is the only Democrat currently running for the state’s 8th Congressional District. Democrats fielded no candidate in the 2022 election.

“My platform will be healthcare-based because I’m a physician,” she said. “But I think it’s important to consider all of the different aspects that affect our own individual health.”

But there is one aspect of her medical record that she isn’t focusing on and would prefer stay out of the race.

In March 2020, Lylerly was reprimanded by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, the agency that regulates doctors in Minnesota. The four-page report said an investigation by the board found that she “failed to timely deliver an infant in December 2018.”

“Respondent acknowledged that late decelerations were present on the fetal heart rate tracing for about 30 minutes before respondent decided to perform a caesarian section delivery,” the report concluded.

Republicans have been quick to jump on the infraction in the race to replace Gallagher, who is retiring later this month.

Three GOP candidates have entered the race in the solidly red district. They are Tony Wied, a former Green Bay-based gas station chain owner who has the backing of former President Donald Trump; state Sen. Andre Jacque, a De Pere conservative; and former state Sen. Roger Roth, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2022.

“The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice found that Kristin Lyerly’s negligence was directly responsible for putting the life of an unborn child at risk and requiring the pregnant mother to undergo an emergent C-section to save her baby,” said Matt Fisher, a spokesman for the state Republican Party.

But Lylerly, 54, disputed that characterization.

She said she has delivered thousands of babies during her 15 years as an obstetrician. Most of her practice has focused on providing care for women in rural Minnesota and Wisconsin.

One of the things she enjoys about her practice, she said, is that she gets to take care of people during some of their most vulnerable and stressful times of their lives.

When delivering babies, she said, there are cases in which everything goes exactly as planned and everything is great. The case that went before the Minnesota medical board, however, was not one of them. She said it was one of the more difficult cases.

But, in the end, everything turned out well.

“I can tell you that we delivered a healthy baby,” Lyerly said.

According to the medical board’s report, Lylerly was approved to practice medicine in Minnesota beginning in August 2017.

The hospital where she practiced, which is not named, began an investigation for “substandard or inadequate care.” The hospital was reviewing allegations that she failed to recognize the risk profile for a pregnant patient and failed to abide by the recommendations of a maternal-fetal medicine consultant.

In particular, the report said the hospital was looking into allegations that Lyerly failed to act on the infant’s category 2 fetal heart tracing and did not respond urgently when the heart tracing reached category 3, the highest level.

Lyerly voluntarily suspended her privileges at that Minnesota hospital in March 2019 while still under investigation by the institution. In December, she met with the medical board and acknowledged the late decelerations in the fetal heart rate before performing the C-section.

The report said: “The respondent agrees that the conduct cited above constitutes a reasonable basis in law and fact to justify the disciplinary action under this statute,” which pertains to care that doesn’t conform to the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice.

In her defense, Lyerly said she left the Minnesota hospital and returned to Wisconsin during the investigation because one of her sons was having a hard time at his Minnesota high school. As part of her move, she withdrew her privileges at all of the hospitals where she worked.

As for the case itself, she said, it would seem that it’s easy to watch a monitor and decide when to begin a delivery. But, in fact, she said it’s complicated to interpret and there are studies on the subjective nature of interpreting fetal monitoring. She disputed that she disagreed with the medical consultant.

“Talk to anybody who’s ever delivered a baby about interpreting fetal monitoring, and they’ll tell you that it can be very tricky, and in the situation, it certainly was,” she said. It’s not unusual in such cases, she added, for doctors to have differences of opinions.

Despite the reprimand, Lyerly said she has never been sued for malpractice or had her license restricted.

She said she expects to be attacked because of her role on abortion rights. She was one of the plaintiffs in a Wisconsin lawsuit that succeeded in keeping abortions legal after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

“What society does by using abortion as a wedge to shame people and to drive them apart is causing so much pain and trauma,” she said. “It is unconscionable to me that politicians think that they can make these kinds of decisions.”

Today, Lyerly is a traveling doctor, or locum tenans, who provides care for women in rural Minnesota. Abortions are not a regular part of her practice.

Anna Igler, an an OB/GYN in Appleton, said she worked side-by-side with Lyerly as colleagues for four years and never had any problems with her. Lyerly would even cover for Igler when she was away, and Igler said she never had complaints about her care. Igler said that wasn’t the case with all of her other partners.

As for Lyerly’s reprimand, she said, anyone can file a complaint against a doctor, as the the political director of Pro-Life Wisconsin has done in the abortion case in which Lyerly is involved. In addition, Igler said, difficult deliveries are not uncommon.

“Every doctor out there has some sort of complication in their practice. Every single one of us. … I would never think — ever — that Dr. Lyerly would ever intentionally do anything to harm a patient.”

Records show Igler donated $1,000 to Lyerly during her earlier political contest. In 2020, Lyerly lost her bid to defeat state Rep. John Macco, a Republican from Ledgeview, by 52% to 48%.

Fisher, the GOP spokesman, said he was not buying these explanations.

“No amount of downplaying or blame-deflecting by Lyerly can erase her reprimand or blatant disregard for the health of her patients,” Fisher said.

Madeleine Buchholz-Kneeland, Lyerly’s campaign manager, said Fisher’s remarks were proof that this is “a political story and not a medical one.” Buchholz-Kneeland said Republicans are focusing on a single case where there were legitimate differences of medical opinion as the delivery occurred.

Burchholz-Kneeland added, “The last thing MAGA extremists want to see in Congress is a highly respected, peer-recognized OB-GYN doctor like Dr. Lyerly who supports women’s reproductive freedoms, including access to safe and legal abortions.”

This story first appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and was republished with permission.


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