Saturday, December 01, 2007

Independent midwives will be required to get insurance

Independent midwives in the UK have been practicing without malpractice insurance, and without disclosing this uninsured status to patients. That is changing in response to homebirth complications that leave babies with life long impairment and no compensation.

According to the article Midwives told to get insured or quit:
Independent midwives - paid for privately by parents to allow them to give birth at home - are under threat because they lack professional indemnity insurance to cover them if things go wrong.

This lack of insurance can have disastrous consequences...

When three-year-old Daisy Anderson was born the nerves in her arm were ripped apart as the midwife pulled her out. Her neck was so badly lacerated she had to have plastic surgery and her mother was also cut and later spent four hours on the operating table.

Daisy has Erb's Palsy - severely limited use of her arm. But when her parents, Victoria and Matt, tried to get compensation for her they were told it was impossible because the midwife was independent - hired outside the NHS.

Like all independent midwives, she was uninsured. Under the Nursing and Midwifery Council rules the Andersons should have been told this - they claim they were not.

The Independent Midwives Association (IMA) say the cost of the insurance is too high and are in negotiation with the NHS to pick up the bill. The government has given them 18 months to obtain cover or stop practising...

The Andersons had no protection and their lawyer lays the blame at the door of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) for allowing such a situation to go on - for agreeing, for instance, that insurance is recommended but not required.

The college does say independent midwives are required to tell their clients of their insurance status but, in a letter to the Andersons, the RCM's lawyers admitted the college "acknowledged that uninsured midwives could not necessarily be relied on to tell clients they were not insured"...
Indpendent midwives have been practicing without insurance because they cannot afford the premiums. In other words, the amount of money required to cover claims for poor homebirth outcomes, exceeds the amount of money that midwives can afford to pay.

Malpractice insurance serves two purposes. First, it protects the practitioner from huge financial judgments. Equally importantly, it gives patients redress in case of malpractice, and provides financial support to deal with the results of malpractice or poor outcomes. When midwives choose to forgo malpractice insurance, they are depriving patients of important rights, and as such, should be required to inform patients about their lack of protection.

In an effort to preserve their own incomes, independent midwives dispensed with patient protections, and patients are suffering as a result.


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