Obstetricians Should Consider Improving Communication to Reduce Liability Exposure

Communication is key to positive health outcomes for you and your baby. The very last thing you want when you’re pregnant is to end up taking a medical malpractice suit against your obstetrician. In fact, it’s your nightmare. All you want is a happy, healthy baby.

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Unfortunately, obstetrics is a field where medical malpractice claims are relatively common. This quiz about medical errors reveals that obstetrics and gynaecology is a specialty with both a high percentage of claims and with larger pay-outs than in other areas of medicine.

There are a few reasons for this. When things go wrong during delivery, they go wrong fast, and injuries to mother of baby can have lifelong implications. Ongoing medical care costs in these situations can be huge. Cases involving newborns are often very emotional for jurors. They generate huge sympathy, resulting in more verdicts against physicians.

Luckily, the obstetrics and gynaecology community is very aware of this problem. Physicians want good outcomes for their patients just as much as the patients do, and they are constantly working to improve practices. Recent good practice guidance for obstetricians stresses the importance of clear communication, especially in the area of electronic foetal heart monitoring. It also advises obstetricians to develop specific care protocols for handling crises and to practice using them regularly. Meticulously documenting all care is also advised.

You need an obstetrician who is an effective communicator, constantly works to improve their clinical skills, develops a strong team, has excellent documentation, and build positive rapport with you as a patient. A quality physician goes a long way toward preventing the bad outcomes for mothers and babies that lead to litigation.

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