Can a Midwife Be Liable for My Birth Injuries?
In today’s world, women have many more options available to them when it comes to obstetric care. In the past, as few as 3% of all American women sought the guidance of a midwife during their pregnancy – now it’s estimated that up to 9% may use a midwife or alternative practitioner in lieu of visiting the hospital, and that number is only growing.
If you’ve been injured because of a midwife’s negligence, you are entitled to hold them accountable for those injuries, just as you would be with a doctor who made a damaging medical error. However, there are a few key differences that you should know before bringing a birth injury claim against your midwife.
Why Are Women Turning to Midwives?
Women are turning to midwives instead of obstetricians for two main reasons: A desire for more natural and female-centered care, and distrust of the current healthcare system. Given that doctors are performing more unnecessary C-section surgeries than ever before, it’s understandable that some women are looking for alternatives. Maternal mortality rates are also higher in the United States than in any other developed country, a fact which prompted Congress to create dedicated maternal health review committees in every state.
However, while midwives tend to report higher rates of patient happiness than their physician equivalents, they are not immune from making mistakes, either. Although midwives offer exceptional care for low-risk pregnancies, complications often arise during the birthing process. Lacking the same medical resources as hospital staff, some midwives may make rash decisions in the heat of the moment, and these decisions can cause a range of serious birth injuries for mother and baby alike.
Midwifery Under the Law
While midwives don’t have the same certifications as physicians, they are still required to meet certain legal standards, and these can vary dramatically depending on the type of midwifery and the geographical region of their practice. Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNMs) do have nursing training, and must register through the American Midwifery Certification Board, which allows them to practice in all 50 states. However, in states like Alabama, CNMs must enter a “practice agreement” with a qualified physician, and they have to request authority to prescribe non-controlled substances.
In contrast, direct-entry midwives do not have nursing training, and instead acquire their skills through apprenticeship, midwife schools, and other alternative disciplines. More than 20 of the states don’t regulate direct-entry midwives at all, whereas others have a range of licensing options, most notably through Certified Professional Midwife or CPM programs.
How Can I Hold a Negligent Midwife Accountable?
Because there are so many unique legal issues around midwifery, it’s crucial that you speak with a skilled birth injury lawyer before pursuing a civil action against your care provider. Depending on your state, there could be multiple parties involved in a birth injury lawsuit against a midwife. In cases where you were admitted to the hospital, you could also have grounds to hold the attending physician accountable for your injuries.
At Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, we can provide you with compassionate counsel, and we have the nationwide resources to help you pursue a midwife malpractice claim. Contact us at (855) 997-9319 for a free consultation.