Do you need to get liability or malpractice insurance? Well, no, it is generally not required for doulas or childbirth educators to carry it. Is it good to have? I think so. However, like most everything else, there are valid reasons to have insurance or pass. On one hand, there haven't been many cases of doulas getting sued. As long as you're practicing within your scope, risk shouldn't be high.
However, I have heard of a couple cases of births that went wrong, and everyone who happened to be in the room were subpoenaed in a case, regardless of whether the couple actually wanted to sue their doula. Some doulas I've talked to refuse to get insurance out of concern that having insurance may invite lawsuits. By not carrying insurance, they feel frivolous lawsuits will be avoided. Others feel that because they are not practicing medicine and are working within their scope, insurance is unnecessary.
The fact is, there is always a slim chance of getting sued, whether you have malpractice insurance or not. And if you are sued and don't have insurance, you will incur the cost of legal fees and maybe more.
If you choose that insurance is right for you, you can get insurance through CM&F Group. You'll want to look at their Postpartum Care Providers and Doulas Policy. Depending on the state you live in, premiums range from $100-200 for one year of coverage. That is very reasonable for the peace of mind it can provide you. Isn't that why we purchase homeowner's, health and car insurance, to be covered in case we need it?
How can you minimize your liability?
- Be very clear with your clients about what you do and do not do. A doula agreement or contract that outlines your scope of practice that is signed by your client sets the tone for your relationship from the very beginning. Even if you're doing free births, having your clients sign a doula agreement is highly recommended.
- Either in your doula agreement or in a separate document, have your clients sign a waiver that says they release you from liability and that they are responsible for taking responsibility for their own health and the health and well-being of their baby.
- Have open lines of communication throughout your working relationship with your clients, before and after the birth.
- Become a certified doula. Completing your certification can prove to clients and attorneys that you are competent in your trade and that you are practicing within the standards set by your training organization.
- Avoid potentially risky situations. Examples include avoiding driving a client to the hospital during labor (what if you have a car accident on the way), or avoiding the application of heat or cold applications to a client who has an epidural. You should also refrain from giving clients any kind of holistic medicines, herbs or remedies if you are not licensed to do so, since that could be considered practicing medicine without a license.
(Source: ALACE Statement on Liability Insurance)
Choosing to purchase malpractice insurance is up to each individual. I encourage you to do your research and make an informed decision about this topic.
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