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Can you sue a nurse-midwife for malpractice?

The use of nurse-midwives has increased in popularity in the United States, but are mothers who trust their lives — and their babies’ lives — to a nurse-midwife really safe?

There’s an alarming lack of regulation in the United States for midwives. Many practice outside the law, against state regulations. Some even flout the authority of the state to stop them — even when notified in writing that they need to stop practicing. Even those that are licensed by the state are not well-regulated. When mistakes happen and a baby dies, some will simply relinquish their licenses in the state where the death occurred and move on to practice elsewhere.

While midwives are perfectly capable of assisting many births, some are so committed to the idea that modern hospitals burden birthing mothers with unnecessary regulations that they take risks they shouldn’t. For example, women who have already had a cesarean-section should only attempt a later vaginal delivery in a hospital, not at home with a midwife. Similarly, women who know they are carrying multiple babies need to deliver in a hospital where an emergency C-section can take place in order to ensure their health and their babies’ health.

In addition, while all midwives are urged to carry malpractice insurance, most states do not require it — including Tennessee. What does this mean for expectant mothers? In general, it means that if something goes wrong with a delivery, there’s no ability to obtain financial compensation. Holding a medical professional financially accountable for their mistakes not only serves to better regulate the industry but can provide much-needed funds to care for a child’s injuries.

If you intend to use a midwife for your delivery, ask for proof that she carries medical malpractice insurance. In addition, find out what criteria she uses to determine if a home birth isn’t in your best interests. If a midwife doesn’t believe that any birth should be referred to a hospital, that’s a good sign that you’re not in safe hands.

For more information about medical malpractice and how to pursue a claim against a midwife or another medical professional, talk to an attorney today.


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