Who Has the Highest Rate of Medical Malpractice? February 5, 2024.
Healthcare providers are among the most trusted professionals in society. They care for the most vulnerable people during times of distress, offering both treatment and comfort for the ailing and their families. In the case of giving birth, these professionals are there to help welcome new life into the world, sharing in the excitement and joy of such an awe-inspiring event.
But when medical practitioners fail to provide the care they should, it casts a painful shadow over what should be a momentous occasion. Below, learn why labor and birth providers have the highest rate of malpractice claims and what you can do if your family was impacted by medical negligence.
What the Data Says
According to a study conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA), OB/GYN providers have one of the highest rates of malpractice, with more than 62% of physicians being sued at some point throughout their career.
This is followed closely by general surgeons with a 59% claim rate and orthopedic surgeons with a rate of over 47%. On the other end of the spectrum are dermatologists with a lifetime malpractice claim rate of just 13%.
Why Do Labor and Birth Practitioners Get Sued?
Labor, birth, and other OB/GYN providers are commonly sued for damages in cases of serious injury or neglect. One of the primary facilitators of legal action after the birth of a child is when the baby, mother, or both are critically injured during the delivery. Cerebral palsy, Erb's palsy, and other lifelong disabling conditions are often the result.
Often, OB/GYN providers fail to properly monitor mothers for signs of fetal distress or may neglect to perform the appropriate diagnostic tests for serious medical conditions. This often leads to preventable complications related to manageable conditions like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or breech positioning.
Factors That Influence Malpractice Rate
There are many factors that can influence a practitioner’s medical malpractice rate, some of which have nothing to do with the provider themselves. Here are just a few:
- The complexity of the procedure. Medical procedures that are more complex or intricate are generally associated with a higher degree of risk and potential complications. This can be due to unique anatomical challenges, advanced technology, and other difficult aspects that leave little room for error.
- Patient demographics. Variances in age, socio-economic status, cultural background, and other demographics can also increase complication rates and subsequent malpractice lawsuits. For example, Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related complication than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
- Staff experience and training. Inadequate training or insufficient experience may lead to errors in diagnosis, treatment, or communication. Well-trained providers are better equipped to handle complex cases, mitigate risks, and provide high-quality care.
- Availability of resources. Lack of adequate resources can contribute to fatigue, stress, and increased workloads, which compromise patient care and can result in delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and higher adverse outcomes.
- Patient compliance. Non-compliance with treatment and aftercare, whether intentional or not, can cause serious complications, regardless of a medical provider's skill or ability to provide quality care.
- Quality of post-procedure care. Patients who receive poor post-operative care by follow-up physicians may experience complications that have little or nothing to do with the original treating provider actions. This includes wound care, suture removal, medication management, and other post-procedure support.
- Patient education and informed consent. Inadequate communication about treatment options, potential risks, and expected outcomes can create unrealistic expectations for patients. Making sure that patients are well-informed and actively involved in their treatment decision-making process is a critical component of reducing malpractice claims against providers in all specialties.
Strategies for Mitigating Medical Malpractice Risks
Medical malpractice is an unfortunate reality for labor and birth providers, but it’s critical that facilities and individual practitioners take steps to mitigate the risk of complications and injuries during the delivery process.
Hospitals and private practices can foster a culture of continuous learning and ensure providers stay up-to-date on the latest data and best practices of their respective industries. Frequent risk management and patient safety training workshops also give staff members hands-on experience and help keep important information top-of-mind.
Regularly reviewing internal processes and identifying areas for improvement creates a culture of accountability and continuous growth that medical providers can thrive in. Ask any facility you visit or practitioners who provide you or a family member with medical care about their risk mitigation practices and never event policies to get an idea of how they prioritize patient safety.
The Mellino Law Firm Is Your Birth Injury Advocate
If you or a loved one were impacted by a birth injury, you may be eligible for compensation. The Mellino Law Firm can help you hold negligent doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals responsible for their actions. Contact us today (440) 333-3800 for more info or to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.