Being a Witness
Midwives may be called to testify as witnesses in a variety of proceedings, including child protection, professional discipline, civil, or criminal. Their testimony may relate to the things that they saw, heard or did when providing care. If an expert witness, their testimony will relate to opinions they have formed after reviewing evidence, such as documents.
Witnesses may be asked to testify voluntarily or may be required to testify through a formal summons or subpoena. A summons enables disclosure in court of personal information (e.g., health or employment information) without breaching privacy obligations. The Canadian Medical Malpractice Association (CMPA) and the Canadian Nurses Protective Society (CNPS) have a number of highly-relevant web articles that midwives can access for more information:
- Responsibilities when receiving a subpoena or summons
- Preparing to testify
- Proper procedure and etiquette in court
- Being an effective witness
- Acting as an Expert in Medico-Legal Proceedings
For most witnesses there are no risks of testifying as they are simply providing a factual report of what occurred. However, if it relates to a serious incident or if there might be any allegations of blame, wrongdoing, or negligence against a midwife witness, they should report the claim to HIROC to seek legal advice. Midwife witnesses can also contact AOM On-Call for more information.