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Who has a duty of care to keep midwives safe?

02 January 2018
Volume 26 · Issue 1


Midwives have a duty of care to the women and babies they look after, but who has a duty of care to midiwves? Paul Golden explains when an employer may be responsible for harm

Aduty of care exists between employer and employee (Donoghue v Stevenson [1932]; Caparo Industries plc v Dickman [1990]). This means that employers are liable for any reasonably foreseeable harm caused by a negligent act or omission that directly caused the injury. This can result in compensation to a claimant midwife and may indirectly lead to improvements in standards of clinical care and greater protection for midwives as a result of the successful legal action.

In RE and others v Calerdale [2017], a woman who had experienced a traumatic birth, and her mother, who had witnessed the birth, successfully sued for nervous shock and were awarded compensation. Usually, for the reasons given in a previous column in British Journal of Midwifery (Symon, 2017), it is difficult for this type of action to succeed, mainly because the harm caused must directly result in a psychiatric injury; meaning that there needs to be a duty of care that is breached by a negligent act or omission.

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