Midwives and Liability: Results from the 2009 Nationwide Survey of Certified Nurse-Midwives and Certified Midwives in the United States


  • Mamie Guidera CNM, MSN,

  • William McCool CNM, PhD,

  • Alexandra Hanlon PhD,

  • Kerri Schuiling CNM, PhD,

  • Andrea Smith SNM, BA, BSN

Mamie Guidera, CNM, MSN, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, 420 Guardian Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19104. E-mail: guidera@nursing.upenn.edu


Introduction: In partnership with the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), the authors conducted a survey of ACNM members to examine the incidence of lawsuit involvement, the outcomes of the litigation in which they were involved, and coping mechanisms among midwives who had been involved in a lawsuit.

Methods: In the spring of 2009, a nationwide Web-based survey was completed by ACNM members. In addition to using chi-square tests and nonparametric testing in data analysis, a logistic regression model was used to evaluate predictors of lawsuit involvement.

Results: Among 1340 midwives responding to the survey, 32% had been named in a lawsuit at least once. The median number of years in practice when the event leading to lawsuit occurred was 6. The majority of midwifery lawsuits involved hospital births and were settled prior to going to court. Three variables were statistically significant for involvement with litigation: the midwife's age, the number of births attended, and the ACNM region of practice in the United States.

Discussion: Lawsuits among midwives were significantly related to exposure to births over time. Practice patterns and job security were not greatly affected by the experience of a lawsuit. Future cyclic surveys are needed to track the frequency of litigation and the outcomes that lead to lawsuits and to better define the relationships between midwifery practice and medical malpractice litigation.