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Do home deliveries present more risk of birth injuries?

In many ways, normal labor and delivery might be regarded as a low risk procedure. Yet despite the assurances of a hospital’s high statistical rate of safe deliveries, expecting parents may not be able to rid themselves of some fears regarding potential birth injuries

Since worrying is often part of a parent’s role, news of a recent legalization may surprise readers. Specifically, Maryland recently passed a law allowing midwives to obtain licensure and attend to home births. Previously, state law only permitted midwives who were also nurses to help mothers with home births. The licensure procedure may ensure some safety controls over home deliveries. 

The new law may reflect a change in societal attitudes about whether a hospital or home is a preferable setting for deliveries. Between 2004 and 2012, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that births outside of hospitals increased by 60 percent. In Maryland, however, the number of non-hospital births remains relatively low, at slightly over 1 percent.

Notably, doctors and nurses were among those who resisted the licensure proposal. Such professionals may have questioned whether a home setting could accommodate any problems that might arise during delivery. Some of those safety concerns made their way into the bill, such as a provision prohibiting vaginal home births for women who have previously had a cesarean section delivery.

Our law firm focuses on personal injury and medical malpractice litigation. We know that licensing may establish a certain professional level of care, but is not equivalent to a guarantee against patient or birth injuries. Nevertheless, a common standard of care may help injured patients in holding doctors, nurses, midwives or other medical staff accountable for negligence. 

Source: RH Reality Check, “Maryland Legalizes Home Births With Midwives,” Martha Kempner, May 12, 2015

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