Tuesday, September 11, 2012

No Liability Insurance? Just File Bankruptcy...Repeatedly

I was always taught that when you make a mistake, you tell the truth.  You admit your error(s), and face the consequences.  You let that instance of being human teach you a lesson that leads you forward to a better version of yourself.  I've never in my life known personally people who willfully and purposefully dodge responsibility, recurrently lie to avoid accountability, or even further know they have made errors that have cost lives and work very hard to cover them up.  Even worse, they continue their dangerous practices without hesitation.  I haven't known this kind of people, not until now.  

So let's talk first about the midwives who don't bother to carry liability insurance and what exactly that says about them.  It says that your midwife doesn't believe in mistakes.  It says she views herself as infallible.  It says that even if things go wrong and your baby is injured or worse, that you'll just believe she did her best and forgive her.  It means that it doesn't matter to your midwife that you potentially face a lifetime of heart ache or medical bills for which your family alone will bear the burden.   It means that your midwife doesn't like to play by anyone else's rules or safety guidelines for that matter.  Not taking the professional responsibility, as someone who delivers babies, to ensure that families are offered safe, reliable care with the safety net of insurance if something does go wrong, is just plain selfish.  A midwife who doesn't bother to protect her clients by carrying liability insurance doesn't care about safety or outcomes, nor does she appreciate the inherent dangers that come along with childbirth. Essentially, you and your baby, are not worth the investment. 

How does lacking liability insurance directly effect your care?   Well, it means there are no rules to follow, no checks and balances, no source who can say a midwife has had repeated "claims" and thereby refuse to insure her.  It means if your baby spends weeks, months in the RNICU, you alone will be responsible for the enormous bill.  In the event your baby dies, (whether it's negligent, criminal, or not) it means you are highly unlikely to find a civil attorney to represent you because they will spend countless hours working on your case with little chance for any compensation for their time in the end.  In the event of injury, you will likely foot the bill for a lifetime of medical care, therapy, and treatment.  

If you are fortunate enough to find an attorney to represent you in civil litigation, that doesn't much matter either.  Your midwife can just file bankruptcy in an attempt to get your case dismissed.  It's a lovely little loophole in the circus of seeking accountability.  Without liability insurance, they can easily make it look like they have nothing to give in the event of a settlement.  Never mind the assets they've carefully moved before filing.  Low and behold, it's quite a common strategy for people trying to avoid paying a judgment for negligence. I know, I know, you must be thinking, "...but someone died or was injured!  It's not like they just missed a few credit card payments right?  How can they skirt responsibility that is so serious?"  It's a way to circumvent being held accountable because the chances of a family being able to fight back, to pay enormous legal fees to contest the bankruptcy claim are slim.  A clever strategy indeed.  In fact, so clever that some midwives are repeat filers.  No insurance means no accountability.  

What really boggles my mind is the extent to which some people will apparently go to avoid being held accountable for actions they absolutely know to be negligent.  Even beyond that, they will continue to practice, to deliver babies, to cause deaths and injuries, and there isn't a damn thing anyone can do to stop them...not the county prosecutor, not the state, not a court of law, no one.  Without laws or regulations to which to hold them accountable, what can be done?  Nothing.  You don't have to be a licensed midwife to practice in MI, and even if you are, you don't have to report your outcomes to anyone or carry liability insurance.  

At what point do these midwives become a menace to society?  At what point does someone say enough is enough?  At what point do the people of Michigan stand up and demand more ethical practices and regulations?  How many babies have to die?  How many times can one midwife be sanctioned or file for bankruptcy to avoid responsibility for the babies she has harmed?  Once?  Twice?  What is the magic number?  Apparently it is limitless and these are the midwives serving the women of Michigan in out-of-hospital birth.  Don't be fooled by the professional looking facility that reminds you of the comforts of home.  So what if they have a license?  Don't listen to how great their track record is, because the truth is you simply have no way of knowing how many deaths and injuries they are responsible for.  Nor do you know how many times they've been sued for a baby's death and filed for bankruptcy as a scapegoat. 

It saddens me to know on a human level that people like this exist, especially when it comes with a heavy price, the life of a child.  These are clearly people that are not working to improve themselves or their practices, and women deserve to know about the dark strategies of the midwives serving them in home birth in our state.  Calculated and planned deceit.  Midwives are irresponsible at best if they are not carrying malpractice insurance to protect the families they serve.  If your midwife does not carry malpractice insurance, it should be an enormous red flag.  You need to find yourself a real professional. 


  1. I asked a doula friend of mine who had a HBAC several months ago if her midwife was insured. She told me that she was not because it was too expensive for the midwife. We live in California. Is it possible that rates for malpractice are more prohibitive in California? I still believe that her midwife should have insurance and NOT agreed to an HBAC, even if her previous delivery was a successful VBAC in a hospital. I'm just curious if there are any home birth midwives anywhere that carry malpractice insurance? And how do you inform the public of the very dangerous ones? Public campaign to inform and protect?

  2. I do know there was a home birth midwife in North Carolina. She was a licensed CNM doing home births there. She wrote a post on this blog earlier about insurance and said if you are a licensed midwife, you could get malpractice insurance for as little as $4,000. I imagine they have some criteria for educational training and licensing before they just insure anyone. Yet another reason why a midwife should be required to be insured.

    Your question about informing the public is a very tricky question. We have accomplished that by starting the blog and working with the media to share our experience with the greater community. Often people who speak out, especially those in the field of midwifery or doulas, are threatened into silence. Often midwives threaten with slander if you use their name and can't back it up with facts. I think our state (MI) should put together some public service announcements and some information on their gov website to better explain the facts and risks of choosing midwives in the out of hospital birth setting, until they can change laws to protect the people.

  3. Hi, thank you for writing on this subject. I have been looking for something like this and your blog helps me a lot to understand the topic better. Waiting for your next post.

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