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Couple "wins" malpractice case against birth center

Some of our readers have either worked with a nurse midwife in the birth of a child or know of couples who have done so. The reasons for working with a nurse midwife over a physician in a hospital setting vary among couples, but one thing couples should always be cautious about in working with midwives is their history of performance and whether or not they are covered by medical malpractice insurance. A recent malpractice lawsuit is a good reminder of both points.  

A couple from DeWitt was recently granted $5 million in damages in a medical malpractice case against a midwife who caused the death of their son back in 2011. The child reportedly died when the midwife attempted to deliver the baby boy in breech. Apparently the facility where the midwife worked did not have the means to delivery by c-section. 

One of the victories for the couple since that unfortunate incident was that the midwife has surrendered her license to practice. The Michigan Nursing Board found her to have been negligent after the state Attorney General conducted an investigation. Not only that, but the birth center ceased operations and the three nurse midwives associated with the clinic all filed for bankruptcy follow the suit's filing.

The couple's suit initially targeted all three nurse midwives, but focused only on one after they learned she had previously been disciplined for a botched out-of-hospital birth and that she had previously been found negligent in another homebirth by the state Nursing Board. Unfortunately, sources say, it is unlikely the couple will be collecting their recent malpractice award because the midwife did not carry malpractice insurance.

Patients in any setting always need to make sure they do what they can to protect themselves. When it comes to labor and delivery services, always make sure that you are comfortable with the physician or midwife's history of performance, including any previous lawsuits or discipline, as well as whether they carry medical malpractice insurance. And for those who are harmed, it is important to be aware of one's legal rights in terms of seeking compensation.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Michigan judge awards $5M to couple after botched delivery by midwife," May 27, 2014. 

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