Malpractice Liability Burden in Midwifery: A Survey of Michigan Certified Nurse-Midwives


Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan, L4000 Women's Hospital, 1500 E. Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.


A statewide survey was conducted among 282 nurse-midwives in Michigan to examine the extent of their current medical liability burden. Two hundred ten responses were received for an adjusted response rate of 76.9%. Data from 145 certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) who were currently engaged in clinical practice in Michigan were used for this analysis. Sixty-nine percent of CNMs reported that liability concerns had a negative impact on their clinical decision making. Most CNMs (88.1%) acquired malpractice insurance coverage through an employer, whereas 4.9% were practicing “bare” due to difficulty in obtaining coverage. Thirty-five percent of the respondents had been named in a malpractice claim at least once in their career, and 15.5% had at least one malpractice payment of $30,000 or more made on their behalf. CNMs who purchased malpractice insurance coverage themselves or were going bare were significantly less likely to include obstetrics in their practice than their counterparts covered through an employer (70.6% versus 87.2%; P = .04). These findings among Michigan CNMs call for further investigation into the consequences of the current malpractice situation surrounding nurse-midwifery practice and its influence on obstetric care, particularly among women from disadvantaged populations.