Obstetricians have the unique risk of caring for two patients at the same time. Mothers and neonates have separate needs and can suffer different injuries. The Doctors Company’s Obstetrics Closed Claims Study, a review of 882 obstetrical claims that closed from 2007-2014, revealed that the most common patient allegation against obstetricians, occurring in 22 percent of claims, was delay in treatment of fetal distress, including failure to act when presented with Category II or III fetal heart rate (FHR) tracings predictive of metabolic acidemia. The study also analyzed the specific factors that contributed to patient injury, and the second-most common factor in these claims (32 percent) was patient assessment issues, including misinterpretation of FHR strips and diagnostic test results.
Learn steps to help reduce malpractice risks, including tips to avoid risks with FHR tracings.
The practice of obstetrics has underlying vulnerabilities that can put patients at risk of injury and can increase liability for doctors. Watch the video to see the key highlights of the study’s findings, and download the infographic below for information on the most common patient safety risks.
Dr. David P. Michelin, a gynecological oncologist in Traverse City, Michigan, relates his experience with a malpractice suit involving a hysterectomy and staging for uterine cancer. The case had a significant impact on Dr. Michelin’s professional and personal relationships, but in the end he was completely exonerated by the jury.
The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider considering the circumstances of the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.