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Unlicensed midwives may increase risk of birth injuries

Does the risk of birth injuries increase if a doctor or other licensed professional isn't present for the delivery? Let's hope not.

In Oregon, unlicensed midwives take charge in about 18-25 percent of home births in the state each year. Oregon is also the only state other than Utah allowing unlicensed midwives.

Since 1993, when Oregon's state legislature made several healthcare reforms, midwives have been allowed to go unlicensed as long as they don't seek reimbursement by Medicaid. However, that provision may have omitted safeguards.

In a comment submitted to the Oregon Health Licensing Agency, Former Gov. Barbara Roberts stated that it had been her "understanding that low-risk pregnancies and births would be the types of situations that a licensed direct-entry midwife would attend and...it dismays me now to hear about the devastating outcomes that have occurred."

Although many midwives attend only to low-risk births, it is not always possible to predict when a low-risk birth will turn into a high-risk birth requiring intensive care. The likelihood of birth complications is also increased when deliveries are premature.

Yet even in a hospital setting, many infants continue to receive life-altering injuries that may have been avoidable, but for the negligence of a doctor or other medical staff. These injuries may be caused by failing to monitor the baby's oxygen intake, making an erroneous decision to undertake a premature delivery, or failing to diagnose fetal conditions before the delivery.

If you believe your infant was injured as a result of doctor error, you deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering, as well as for any costs of any additional care required by the infant. At a time like that, an attorney can help you get the recovery you deserve.

Source: The Lund Report, "Unlicensed Home Births in Reform Spotlight," Raymond Rendleman, May 21, 2012

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