Saturday, January 26, 2008

Malpractice Insurance & Midwives

Midwifery advocates working on legislation are often met with the question/response, "but what about malpractice insurance? Families need to have some recourse in the event of problems during birth." This is often a close-the-door pseudo-question asked with an air of finality--as in, "now, that settles that. We're all finished here."

Reading the current issue of Midwifery Today finally helped me respond to that question and also to discern what I have always felt that questions of legislation and legalization of midwifery should not involve a need for, or a requirement of, malpractice insurance. It also helps explain why bringing up malpractice insurance need not be an avenue for closing discussion.

From author Judy Slome Cohain: "Mandatory malpractice insurance does not enable a person to sue for malpractice. Any midwife or citizen can be sued at present--insurance or no insurance. Mandatory malpractice insurance can only do one thing: increase the profitability of lawsuits."

When looking through this lens, it becomes clear that lawyers and insurance companies have more to gain from legislation mandating insurance policies for midwives than do birthing women and their families.

The article in Midwifery Today is called "Mandatory Malpractice Insurance: Increases CS Rate & Profitability of Litigation, Decreased Planned Homebirths."

Last year when the issue of malpractice insurance was raised repeatedly in the discussion of our midwifery legislation we discovered that there were no other laws (that we could find) mandating that ANY other type of professional have malpractice insurance, including OBs. If no other professionals in the state of Missouri are required by law to carry malpractice insurance, why is the issue even been raised when discussing midwifery? Yes, most hospitals do require malpractice insurance for their OBs as a condition of employment, but it is not a state regulated requirement that they have it.

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