Anyone going into the medical profession should be prepared for the fact that they will likely be sued for medical malpractice at some point in their career. This is especially true for obstetricians and gynecologists (OB/GYNs). Nearly 90% of all OB/GYNs practicing medicine today have been sued for medical malpractice at some point in their career.
There are many different reasons that OB/GYNs get sued. Of course, doctors are not always guilty every time that they get sued for medical malpractice. Sometimes patients are suing just hoping for a payout. Other times they sue because they believe a doctor acted incorrectly, even though they did not.
On the flip side of the coin, though, doctors are not always sued when they are guilty of medical malpractice. Patients are often unlikely to sue their general practitioner due to a year’s long relationship they have built. Other times patients simply aren’t very litigious and don’t believe that anything was done that warrants a lawsuit.
The most common reason that patients sue their OB/GYN is because of a birth injury. A birth injury can include a wide range of problems that result in an injury to the mother or baby. These can include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Bowel perforation
- Shoulder dystocia
- Maternal or fetal death
These injuries can be caused by many factors and are sometimes the result of medical malpractice, while at other times, they are the result of bad luck. In some cases, the responsibility actually lies with the parents if they failed to show up to scheduled appointments and follow their doctor’s orders considering prenatal care.
Failure to Diagnose
Another top issue that results in OB/GYNs getting sued is a failure to diagnose. There are many different examples of this that can lead to many different types of problems. Failure to perform early assessments and screenings for cerebral palsy can result in birth injuries.
Other failures to diagnose problems early in a pregnancy can lead a mother into a dangerous pregnancy that could cost a mother her life. Many conditions will result in a baby being stillborn or dying shortly after birth. Some diagnoses have the baby living longer but still less than a year. As hard as a pregnancy termination can be for parents losing their baby after it has been more is typically far more difficult.
Failure to Treat
Failure to treat is another common problem that results in a lawsuit. When issues develop in pregnancy after an OB/GYN failed to treat an infection, patients are likely to sue. Anytime that some unavoidable complication occurs in pregnancy, there is a high chance for legal action to be taken.
Failed Tubal Ligation
When women go to get their tubes tied and then get pregnant, they are understandably upset. A failed vasectomy for men is very likely to result in legal action and upset expectant parents. When it comes to a vasectomy vs. a tubal ligation, it is like comparing apples and oranges. A vasectomy is a minor surgery, while a tubal ligation is far from it. So, when this remedy fails, it is no surprise that OB/GYNs who performed the procedure get sued.
Poor Patient Education and Instruction
There are many people involved in a birth. Expectant mothers can read plenty of books and online sources about pregnancy and have often even gone through the process before. However, despite any previous experience or knowledge, it is still the OB/GYN’s responsibility to inform their patients of things they need to do to best ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
This is especially true in cases where complications occur during pregnancy. OB/GYNs who fail to properly communicate to their patients the information they need, open themselves up to a lawsuit.
Eliminating Pregnancy Problems
The best way to avoid a medical malpractice lawsuit is obviously to provide care that results in a safe and healthy birth. Unfortunately, this isn’t always within the power of an OB/GYN. The best they can do is to follow their training and keep up to date with all of the latest research in their field.
Fortunately, medical advancements continue to be made all the time. Having a child today is certainly safer than it was 200 years ago, and in another 200 years ago, it will likely be far safer than it is now. Hopefully, legal action in the medical industry will be a lot rarer over time as the instances of things going wrong in medical procedures, continue to drop.