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Keywords:

  • lawsuit;
  • litigation;
  • midwife

Professional liability litigation is playing an increasing role in the practice of women's health care in this country. Although the impact of litigation on obstetricians' practices has been widely documented, data on the effect of litigation on midwifery practice are scant. The authors conducted a nationwide Web-based survey of American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) members about the experience of being involved in litigation. The survey was completed by 600 midwives (17.5% response rate). Of those midwives completing the survey, 152 (25.3%) had been named in a lawsuit at least once during their midwifery careers. The litigation cases had been resolved for 114 (75%) of these respondents at the time of the survey. Forty-one (36%) reported being dropped from the case, even though the litigation continued without their involvement. Another 54 individuals (47.4%) were involved in cases that were settled before going to court, and an additional 10 cases (8.8%) were dropped without a settlement. Of the nine lawsuits (7.9%) that went to court, four favored the plaintiff (3.5%) and five (4.4%) favored the defendant. Future surveys are needed to better define the relationship between the practices of midwives and medical malpractice litigation.