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Can you sue a midwife for a birth injury?

Birth InjuryNews   March 16, 2016

If an OB/GYN provides negligent care that results in a mother or baby being injured, parents have the option to sue for medical malpractice. But what about birth injuries that take place in the context of home births under the care of a midwife?

Unfortunately, in Ohio, parents in this situation may be out of luck. That’s because in Ohio, there is no professional licensure for midwives. Therefore, there is no professionally accepted standard of care to which a lawyer can compare a midwife’s conduct for a birth that results in injury. While some parents may prefer a home birth for a number of reasons, making this choice in Ohio may leave parents without options for financial compensation should something go wrong.

Many states do license and regulate midwives. But in states that don’t, like Ohio, the practice can be problematic for both the people who seek midwifery services and for the midwives themselves. As pointed out in this Life of the Law article, in states where midwives aren’t certified, they can be prosecuted for working without a license. At the same time, in states that have no licensing mechanism in the first place, midwives couldn’t be licensed even if they wanted to.

None of this is to say that parents who wish to have a home birth with a midwife should not do so. They should simply be aware of the risks they are taking if they choose this option. Until midwifery has professional standards in place in the state, parents could end up footing a stiff bill for medical care and other expenses should something go wrong during a birth that causes permanent and/or severe injury.

If you are thinking about the option of home birth and want to know more about the potential liability of doing so, contact a personal injury lawyer who is knowledgeable about birth injury case law.