What Is Midwife Malpractice and How Significant Is Medical Record Review?

by | Last updated on Sep 8, 2023 | Published on Feb 27, 2023 | Medical Record Review

Certified nurse midwives (CNM) are advanced-practice registered nurses who specialize in women’s reproductive health and childbirth. They attend to women during pregnancy, childbirth, and after childbirth. A midwife is also responsible for preventive health maintenance of the women they care for. If something goes wrong during childbirth or any healthcare service the midwife provides to the patient, it results in midwife malpractice. Just as any other healthcare provider, a midwife also can be sued for medical malpractice. Once a medical malpractice case is filed, it would necessitate processes such as medical record retrieval and medical records analysis for attorneys involved in such litigation.

The Role of Medical Review Services in a Midwife Malpractice Case

Medical records are key in injury cases involving healthcare providers because these provide comprehensive information regarding the mother’s pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the condition of the baby at birth. For medical records analysis, you need the following types of documents.

  • Records of the baby’s birth injury and subsequent care
  • Eyewitness testimony from attending healthcare providers
  • Expert testimony from obstetricians, anesthesiologists, nurses, pediatricians, and other experts
  • Prenatal care records
  • Ultrasound images
  • Labor and delivery notes

To establish medical negligence, it is vital to prove that the baby’s injury was not present at birth but was caused by medical errors during the delivery. Typically, medical experts are retained to review the medical records and facts or the service of an experienced medical record review company is sought by attorneys. A midwife may fail to consult a doctor regarding a high-risk pregnancy or to comply with a doctor’s judgment. Sometimes a midwife may be incompetent and fail to identify fetal distress or some health complication of the mother. These lead to issues of negligence on the part of the midwife.

Midwife Malpractice Claims – Major Types

Studies (as in onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jmwh.12310) show that midwives are typically sued for the following 7 categories of negligence.

  • Alleged negligence associated with pregnancy care
  • Fetal or newborn complications/risk
  • Shoulder dystocia
  • Alleged negligence associated with gynecological care
  • Genetics
  • Failure to identify the need for a cesarean
  • Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)

So, a review of the medical records will focus on identifying proof of the above types of negligence. The reviewers will be looking for errors in the documentation, missing information, whether the midwife had consulted with a qualified doctor and collaborated in a timely manner, whether the appropriate personnel were present during the delivery, whether the informed consent for genetic screening is thoroughly documented, whether patients with complex gynecologic problems were referred to a physician and so on.

Medical Record Review for Midwife Malpractice – Steps Involved

Once the medical record retrieval process is over and all the relevant documentation is obtained, they are thoroughly reviewed. Here are the steps involved.

  • Medical record sorting, interpreting, and organization: All records, including complex medical records are sorted and organized well.
  • Medical case chronology preparation: This is a timeline of all the medical encounters of the patient.
  • Medical case summary preparation: The summary provides an accurate description of the nature of injury/condition of the patient, ER services provided, details of hospital stay, diagnoses, lab tests, treatments provided, and other important information
  • Medical record categorization and identifying missing records: The medical record review brings to light missing records if any, and all the records are categorized according to type such as operative records, progress notes and so on.

In a midwife malpractice case, medical records review has an important role to play. Therefore, it is best done with the support of a professional medical review team, which will make the entire process efficient and effective. When attorneys have accurate medical review reports to work with, the entire case preparation becomes easy and efficient.

Disclaimer: The content in the above blog is for informative purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For a professional legal opinion, contact a medical malpractice attorney.

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