In honor of Halloween, I wanted a topic that tends to scare midwives! Being sued and liability risk for obstetrics care. Malpractice insurance is such a mysterious topic among midwives and health care provider as a whole. I am not a expert and would strongly suggest you talk with your malpractice carrier for detailed questions. My goal of this posts is to get you to start thinking about are you really covered how you want to be covered, are you paying a fair price, what are different kinds of malpractice insurance and coverage, and do I “really need it.”
Obstetrics is a high litigation field to be practicing in. Even if your births goes perfectly, something may be wrong with the baby down the road developmentally and could be linked to the birth and care during pregnancy. When a midwife is practicing in a community with lack of medical support, doctors can sue midwife or request investigation after a hospital transport. Malpractice insurance can have a clause to have legal support when your license is up for question to a midwifery board.
Some states a midwife can be sued up to 18 years after birth has occurred. As your business grows and becomes successful, last things any midwife wants is to lose everything professional and personally from a major lawsuit. We work too hard for our families and they deserve long term asset protection with proper liability coverage. Picking the right business entity, getting with a lawyer for asset protection, and setting up proper safety protocols and collaborative arrangements are vital for liability coverage on top of getting malpractice insurance.
I will just go over the basics of malpractice insurance (anyone can google search an article about it before calling a malpractice carrier). Medical malpractice insurance is a type of errors and omission coverage. It protects midwives against claims alleging their negligent acts caused injury to patients. Most medical malpractice coverages are written on claims made forms. A claims-made policy covers claims brought against the insured physician (or other professional) during the policy period. Claims brought after the policy has expired aren’t covered unless you have purchased tail coverage (very expensive).
Some medical malpractices coverages are available on occurrence policies. An occurrence policy covers claims arising from acts committed during the policy period no matter when the claim is filed. Claims made many years after the policy has expired may be covered as long as they result from acts committed while the policy was in effect.
Limits are important to know the basics about. Medical malpractice policies generally include two limits, an aggregate (annual) limit and an individual limit. Depending on the policy, the latter may apply to each claim or each event. When choosing a limit, consider your specialty and location.
There are some states that require any midwife practicing to have malpractice insurance. Many home birth midwives can’t even get affordable coverage. In Michigan, most home birth midwives don’t have it for misunderstandings that I don’t need it, I won’t get sued if I don’t have any money for lawyer to go after, or can’t afford it. Midwifery licensure is very new to Michigan. Before placed, many midwives would say to me I can’t be sued because I don’t have a license in the state. I only care for the Amish, they don’t sue so I don’t have anything to worry about.
Many midwives don’t realize that how important malpractice insurance really is. It should be factored into the business budgets as a needed expense. With today’s society being sue happy and obstetrics is a high litigation scope, midwives need to protect themselves. When a poor outcome happens with a mother or baby, it is many times for millions of dollars. Especially if patient doesn’t die, jury looks at the long term costs to care for the injured victim. Make sure your malpractice coverage level is minimum of $1,000,000/$3,000,000 claims made policy.. Find a great carrier in your area to work out a better rate for your specific needs.
It is standard for midwives in the hospital and should be part of every midwives private practice model. Doctors will more likely collaborate with you, your business has better chance of long term success, and your anxiety will go down having liability coverage in place. My knowledgeable, great resource Terry Johnson with Coverys is a great resource for Michigan midwives. His contact email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. He isn’t licensed nationwide, but you can definitely contact Coverys customer service to see who is your local representative. I encourage every midwife to protect their license, business, and personal assets by getting malpractice insurance.
Our course, Comprehensive Legal Defense Tips for Midwives, is one of the most crucial classes you can take for your practice.