Does Medical Malpractice Insurance Matter?
“It’s a sticky subject...and many providers (physicians, midwives, physical therapists, chiropractors, etc. ) wish they didn’t “have to” carry medical malpractice, but the truth is...it’s the standard in our country and it’s expected by the consumer. It is the only responsible way to practice midwifery, knowing lives are at stake.” ~ Anonymous Midwife
It is the ethical responsibility of any professional midwife to carry malpractice insurance. When a midwife enters into a fiduciary relationship with a client, presents herself as having an expert body of knowledge, and accepts payment for her services, she is presenting as a professional. Midwives who knowingly place themselves in a position of expertise and leadership in birth should be held to the same degree of ethical responsibility regardless of place of practice. It is imperative that you ask any midwife you are considering for your care whether or not she carries malpractice insurance.
How Insurance Protects the Consumer
Provides a set of checks and balances
Defines scope of practice
Protects families in cases of negligence by offering an avenue of accountability, a public paper trail for repeat offenders, and monetary compensation for families who have suffered a preventable loss or are now facing expensive medical bills for a lifetime supporting an injured baby.
How Insurance Protects the Midwife
Defines scope of practice
Promotes standards for educational training and continuing education
Covers care provider when mistakes are made
The good news is that Michigan offers many excellent midwives who do carry malpractice insurance. These midwives usually practice within a collaborative care model, or as part of a hospital affiliated birth center. It is the hospital, not state law, that requires midwives employed by the hospital to carry malpractice insurance. Therefore, midwives working outside the medical system altogether, those serving women in home birth and freestanding birth centers, are most often not insured at all.
Malpractice Insurance & Out-of-Hospital Birth
Birth can be a life and death situation in an instant. Things can and do go wrong, even if it isn’t most of the time, and even if you think it won’t happen to you. Out-of-hospital birth will always carry with it greater inherent risk based on proximity to emergency care alone. Therefore, insurance is an even more important piece of competent care for the family seeking an out-of-hospital birth. Families and care providers both deserve to have insurance during these potentially life altering events.
The important thing to note here if you are considering out-of-hospital birth is that your midwife quite possibly could carry no malpractice insurance at all. This means it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible to hold her accountable should you experience negligent care. It also means that families are the ones who bear all financial burdens should their baby have injuries or need medical care, in the short term or for a lifetime. These are factors worth carefully considering when choosing the safest place and provider for your family.
What We’re Seeking: Is Your Midwife Insured?
Ask A Midwife: Should Midwives Carry Malpractice Insurance?
10 CM Blog: Why There is No Excuse for Midwives to Work Without Insurance
No Insurance: Just File Bankruptcy...Repeatedly