Legal defense refers to the system and strategies used to protect individuals or entities who are accused of committing a crime or facing legal action. It involves the efforts of legal professionals, such as attorneys or lawyers, to represent and advocate for the rights and interests of the accused.
Since the relationship that every midwife has with her patients is a situation where one person owes another a duty of care, it becomes crucial when the patient gets in danger. The midwife is responsible for the patient’s welfare, yet there are unavoidable things that may arise, so every midwife must be prepared.
When a midwife does something that may cause damage, injury, or loss to a patient, or even decides not to do something that also leads to damage, injury, or loss of the patient, that is called “negligence.”. In law, medical malpractice is considered a specific area within the general domain of negligence. It requires four conditions (elements) to be met for the plaintiff to recover damages. These conditions are duty, breach of duty, harm, and causation. The second element, breach of duty, is synonymous with the “standard of care.”
Legally speaking, every medical practitioner, particularly midwives, is responsible for the safety of their patients, and so they must perform their duty to the best of their ability. Getting sued for medical malpractice must be avoided, as it is punishable by law. To protect yourself and your practice against a malpractice lawsuit, you can use three powerful tools: documentation, compliance with policies and procedures, and malpractice insurance.
Documentation is a record of everything you do in your practice. Good documentation is key to avoiding liability, fraud, and abuse. You may be required to reimburse the money if your records don’t justify the items and services you have charged.
Compliance with policies and procedures.
Maintaining compliance with HIPAA goes a long way. You want to make sure that you don’t share patient information on social media or from any other source. It’s critical to practice proper HIPAA compliance standards by ensuring that you only discuss patient information with the patient, staff, or authorized persons. Also, implement a strict data security system to help protect patient data.
Malpractice insurance is the sure way to go. It protects midwives and other healthcare professionals against claims alleging their negligent acts caused injury to patients. This insurance coverage protects healthcare providers against patients who file suits against them under the complaint that they were harmed by the professional’s negligence or intentionally harmful treatment decisions. Malpractice insurance also covers the death of a patient
Midwives need to actively work to avoid such issues since a malpractice lawsuit could cause serious ruin both professionally and financially. Below, we’ve detailed nine tips to help you avoid malpractice claims.
1) Document EVERYTHING
Your first line of defense against malpractice is proper documentation. Always document dates, times, and events, and be extremely specific. We know you are busy, but you cannot afford to neglect to document all your patient interactions and any actions you’ve personally taken.
Clear communication with your patients is key to avoiding misunderstandings. Make sure your patients feel comfortable communicating their thoughts, questions, and concerns to you, and make sure you give them consistent updates and attention. As with your documentation, always be as clear and specific as possible, and if you think your patient doesn’t understand something, take pains to make sure they do.
3) Know policies and standards of care
Make sure you learn the policies and regulations of the facility in which you are working and take the time to consistently update your knowledge of the ever-changing professional standards of care in your area of medicine.
4) Don’t get lazy
We know how busy you are. We understand how overwhelming everything can get. You still cannot let any of your duties or responsibilities lapse. This includes tedious administrative duties and other time-consuming necessities like documenting patient interactions.
5) Ask for help
Don’t try to be a hero or be too proud to ask for help. Know your limits, and do not try to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing. Your pride could cause you to make a serious mistake that could literally ruin your career.
6) ALWAYS get informed consent
You know what they say about assuming… Make sure the patient understands and consents to the actions you plan to take every single time.
7) Strive to build strong relationships with patients
A good bedside manner and going the extra mile to make a patient comfortable can go a long way toward protecting you from potential malpractice claims. Happy patients rarely seek to sue their doctors or nurses.
8) Follow up
Follow up with your patients and follow up with other specialists or professionals involved in a patient’s treatment. Have a set schedule and protocol in place for following up that you will stick to with every patient.
9) Temper expectations and don’t promise what you can’t deliver
Always be realistic with your patients and temper their expectations of what your treatment will be able to achieve for them. Making promises that you know you can’t deliver on will not be worth briefly making the patient feel better when you are facing a serious malpractice suit later.
The code of ethics and conduct for midwifery is unique. Judges who are not qualified in midwifery must decide if a midwife has acted negligently. They depend on expert opinion and make decisions based on the basic principles of reasonableness, prudence, and fairness.
9 tips to help healthcare professionals avoid malpractice claims and lawsuits. Trembly Law Firm – Florida Business Lawyers. (2015, September 23). Retrieved November 12, 2022, from https://tremblylaw.com/9-tips-to-help-healthcare-professionals-avoid-malpractice-claims-and-lawsuits/
Kagan, J. (2022, October 27). Malpractice insurance. Investopedia. Retrieved November 12, 2022, from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/malpractice-insurance.asp
Staff, I. H. (2022, August 30). How to protect yourself against Malpractice: Accidents in the hospital. Incredible Health. Retrieved November 12, 2022, from https://www.incrediblehealth.com/blog/malpractice-in-hospitals/
YOUTUBE VIDEO: Malpractice Insurance and Midwifery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVb7XT9N4Qw
Comprehensive Legal Defense Tips for Midwives, is one of the most crucial classes you can take for your practice. We’ve created over 15 hours of content to give you the very best information.