Are There Risks Associated with Using Midwives?

July 21, 2016

In recent years, families have sought more alternative, non-hospital locations for giving birth, such as at home and at birthing centers using midwives. The complications of giving birth outside of the hospitals can be a reason for concern, but a lot of times women feel more compelled to give birth at a place that suits their values and preferences more than their personal care and safety are concerned.

A study released in The New England Journal of Medicine indicated that in recent year’s babies rarely die in any given setting; however most, if any, newborn deaths generally occur in out-of-hospital settings.

According to a recent feature article in the Boston Globe, “the relative risk of a baby dying may be double in an out-of-hospital setting, but the absolute risk is still very low, while the relative risk of having a C-section is five times higher in a planned hospital birth than a planned out-of-hospital birth.”

A Closer Look at Birth-Related Medical Malpractice 

Midwife Risks | Portland Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Midwife Risks | Portland Medical Malpractice Lawyer

When it comes to birth injuries and birth-related medical malpractice, obstetric care, including that provided by gynecologists and family physicians, tends to take center stage. Less is known about the nursing/midwife culture.

According to The Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health an article focused on the the issues of liability and risk management in midwifery practice, between September 1, 1990, and March 31, 2005, 484 nurse-midwifery malpractice payments were registered in the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). Of these reports, 375 were identified with an obstetrics-related malpractice code.

Defensive Medicine with Midwives

Something to also be aware of with regard to medical liability and midwives is the practice of defensive medicine because it appears that, like traditional health care providers, nurses are getting in on the action too.

Defensive medicine occurs when in an attempt to mitigate or avoid the risks of medical malpractice allegations, providers opt to perform additional procedures (like additional diagnostic testing, for example) to cover all of their bases and limit the possibility of future malpractice lawsuits.

In general, defense medicine for midwifes tends to involve a variety of practices, including (but not limited to)

  • Conducting additional screening tests and/or procedures
  • Declining services to at-risk pregnant women
  • Taking greater care to weed out certain patients deemed to be especially ‘risky’
  • Consulting more often with patients’ regular or primary care physicians.

Contact a Portland Medical Malpractice Lawyer at the Savage Law Firm

Have you or someone you love been injured during labor or deliver by a midwife? If so, contact Portland medical malpractice lawyer at the Savage Law Firm by calling 503-222-0200 (in Portland) or at 206-957-7272 (in Seattle). You can also email us using the form on this page. We represent clients in communities in both Oregon and Washington from our offices in Portland and Seattle.

Categories: Birth Injuries, Malpractice, Midwife Malpractice