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Professional Indemnity Insurance For Midwives

Midwifery is an exceedingly rewarding profession. But, just as in any other role, there are risks involved. At some point, midwives might find themselves in a difficult situation, where a simple error of judgement, silly mistake, or just twist of fate occurs, and they need a safety net. Professional indemnity insurance is that safeguard.

Professional indemnity insurance (or, as it is sometimes known, PI insurance) is designed to protect the insured against the full brunt of any legal backlash if a client or patient is dissatisfied with the service they have received. For example, a patient might claim that their midwife was professionally negligent towards them or their baby, or breached their confidentiality. PI insurance could help pay for legal aid if a complaint is brought against you, and pay out compensation where necessary.

Even without you making a mistake, failing to get covered could mean the end of your career. Indeed, most developed countries have legislation dictating the necessity of professional indemnity insurance within midwifery. In October 2013, legislation was developed for the European Union to make PI insurance compulsory for member states. This manifested in the UK with "The Code: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives" (Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2008) getting an update in 2014 to make having PI insurance a mandatory requirement. Without it, a midwife can be de-registered and will no longer be allowed to practice, so professional indemnity insurance is definitely a worthy investment!

The exact parameters of the insurance cover you need will vary depending on your specific role. For instance, perhaps you work exclusively with teenage mothers. In this scenario, child protection and safeguarding might be more of a prominent issue than for other demographics, and thus the added sensitivity and risk may necessitate added insurance cover. However, you may need much less cover if you merely teach midwifery to students and have less patient contact. Sometimes an employer will provide the insurance as part of the role, as PI insurance can be bought by an organisation to cover its workers. However, it is up to you to check this out and make sure. You as an individual will be liable for lack of cover, not them.

For the sake of your own peace of mind, PI insurance comes highly recommended. It will mean being able to practice confidently, abiding by the appropriate legal guidelines, and ultimately make you a better professional.

Midwifery - what is the worst that can happen?

Midwives can argue with some justification that they are not highly paid in relation to other skilled health service professionals, and there are still increasing trends showing that parents are becoming more litigious with regards to midwives. Yet, they are said to receive a great amount of respect from parents, many of whom have named their children after the midwife. Many are the funny stories, including saying, “Please strip and get into the pool” during pool births, only to see that the husband has done it instead of the mother. Here are a few tales that midwives have told over the last few years.

Who’s who? - When a midwife accidentally offends

Emergency midwives are commonplace as some mothers give birth in the most unexpected places. One emergency lady arrived on the scene, placed the mother on the floor and began to give her instructions. Other people in the room were a little concerned, with one or two starting to laugh when the midwife started instructing her to breathe. The woman, now on the floor, finally had the penny drop when the midwife asked how far apart her contractions were.

It turns out the lady she placed on the floor was just a fat lady that had been sweating and was flustered because her sister was about to give birth. The pregnant woman that was due to give birth was sat on a sofa chair with a blanket wrapped around her. The sister claimed it was weird when the midwife placed her on the floor, but assumed it was part of the procedure to keep the pregnant woman calm!

After a lot of embarrassment and a few hurt feelings the midwife went on to explain she saw the lady flustered and sweating and assumed she was the one giving birth because the real mother (on the sofa chair) was very relaxed and centered, which she claimed was less common in women about to give birth to their first child.

Keep a look out for the stork - The child on a hunt

A midwife was being hounded by the young son of the mother giving birth. He was only six but made enough noise to drown out a marching band. Knowing that he was stressing out the mother, and knowing that assistance from family and friends was over 15 minutes away, she leapt upon the boy’s question about the stork.

She confirmed that the stork was going to bring the baby, and that she needed someone to look out for it. For around ten minutes this managed to keep him quiet as he gazed quietly out of the window. As the mother calmed down and prepared herself for further pain, the boy darted out of the room and left the house, slamming the door behind him.

The midwife had to take after him, only to find him caught by an approaching family member down the road. It turns out he was chasing a dove, mistakenly believing it was the stork missing their house. He was trying to shout it down in the same way a Londoner would shout down a taxi!

What should I squeeze? - An innocent comment taken to extremes

A mother in labour said she would like to hold her husband’s hand, but said she was afraid to do so because she feared breaking his fingers. The midwife comically remarked that many women she has worked with have taken to grabbing their husband’s/boyfriend’s private parts. She continued to say it is the only way men will ever understand the pain women go through.

Later, during a heavy contraction, the woman in labor hit her husband in the testicles, at which point the pair could be heard around the hospital letting out a beautiful duet scream. So hard was he hit that he had to seek medical attention and missed the birth of his child!

Code exposed - Midwives in trouble

Doctors, nurses and midwives have their own sense of humour when it comes to the job, and a funny story appeared in a local paper in Yorkshire of a midwife’s code. It turns out that the random letters appearing at the bottom right of charts and documents were not meant as computer identifiers as was first thought.

It turned out they were code that the doctors, nurses and midwives were using to communicate with each other. For example, FLK means funny looking kid, GWC means guess which celebrity, PA means the mother has been playing away (cheating) and LLD means looks like dad. When the codes were revealed thaty had to be changed, and quickly!

All this fuss over nothing - The photo that nearly got her fired

One midwife was caught taking photos of a set of newly born twins in a cot within the hospital maternity ward. Unlike most nurses, the midwives are allowed to have their personal phones on them for emergency calls from expectant mothers.

The parents were very concerned when they saw she was taking photographs of their twins without their permission or knowledge, snatched her phone and reported her to her bosses. Prior to going to the police, because the parents were worried she was a creep (or worse), her manager and the parents took a look at the pictures on her phone after the midwife gave permission and unlocked it.

The only pictures of babies she had included ones with her in them (innocently taken by parents) and the twins she took earlier. It turned out that the midwife was not a creep, but that she saw one of the twins crying and photographed as the other twin put her thumb in her crying sister’s mouth.

Sadly, such innocent joys could easily have terminated the career of a dedicated woman.