August 6, 2019

Can a Doula be Liable in a Malpractice Claim?

The idea of a Doula for the comfort of childbirth has evolved since early Greece. The term “Doula” refers to the Greek word meaning handmaiden or servant and has never had the connotation of a professional. Malpractice lawyers have to keep this in mind when there is malpractice claim as a result of a problem with childbirth, and they should not confuse the term with the professional roles of midwife, doctor, and nurse.

Doulas can be held liable if there is a claim of negligence by the mother, and it is necessary to fully understand the role of a Doula to gain a perspective on how the Doula might be negligent in her duties. In most cases, the role of a Doula is taken on by a female for the very reason that most women giving birth are more comfortable with a female, and one of the primary responsibilities of a Doula is comfort for the mother.

The Evolution of the Role of a Doula

The term “Doula” was first coined in the 1960s when women were asking for additional support during childbirth, and they sought this support from their friends. Much of the reason for friends assisting instead of family was because many women were no longer living close to family members and looked to others to fill the role a mother or family member might have filled previously.

In the 1980s the role expanded even more. Birth Doulas, sometimes called Labor Doulas, began to differentiate their responsibilities by educating mothers on labor positions, breathing techniques, and medical and non-medical options during birth.

The basic role of providing a comforting and emotional presence has not changed. However, many people ask for assistance with postpartum assistance, such as help with the newborn and instruction and support with breast feeding.

Certification for Doula Training and Certification

There are no federal or state requirements to be a Doula, and as a result, this is not a profession. Instead, there are groups offering training for Doulas, and they also provide certification. The leading two organizations for this purpose are DONA International (Doulas of North America), and CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association).

Both of these organizations provide training for labor doulas, postpartum doulas, lactation educators, and childbirth educators. The training usually involves at least three days on classroom participation, the completion of a reading list, and attendance at childbirth under the supervision of a midwife.

Instances of Malpractice

The primary role of a Doula is to provide comfort and support to the mother who is giving birth. When the Doula is negligent in providing this service, the mother can bring malpractice charges against her. There can also be malpractice charges filed when the Doula exceeds the limits of her role and possibly assumes those of a midwife or nurse. The mother must prove that the Doula promised a certain level of care and breached that contract by not fulfilling her commitment.

Some injuries that can develop from the negligence of a Doula include: making medical decisions for the patient that result in harm, failing to contact a medical professional when there is a problem, offering dangerous holistic medicines, dropping an infant when handing the baby to the mother, or interfering with doctors or healthcare providers when they are administering care. There are other instances as well, and if there is any concern, a medical malpractice lawyer at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. should be contacted to investigate and determine if there is liability.

Final Thoughts

The role of a Doula has evolved into a more important one in modern childbirth. This has happened mainly because of the need for strong emotional support for the mother by other women who may fill in the traditional family element. The law firm of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. has the experience and expertise to identify and investigate any possible liability associated with Doula medical malpractice. Call our law firm today at (1-866-MICH-LAW) 1-866-642-4529 for a free consultation.

Tristan is a professional writer and had careers as a teacher of English, school administrator, and as a broker in real estate sales. He has gained a great deal of legal experience through his service as the president of a teacher’s union, a member of the board for a real estate association, and as the chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the real estate board of directors. Before beginning a full-time job as a freelance writer, he was the Executive Director of the Global Business Alliance for a local Chamber of Commerce and sat on the Government Affairs Committee for the Chamber.

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