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New study on obstetric med mal cases and high-severity injuries

A recent study analyzed medical malpractice claims against obstetricians. Researchers found that although obstetric liability claims compose a small portion of all med mal lawsuits, the claims are often much greater in severity than other medical liability claims. The financial costs tied to these claims are often astronomical as a claim involving an infant often takes into account the likelihood of a lifetime of future medical care costs.

The research was conducted with a review of 472 obstetric medical malpractice cases. The researchers, part of a company that specializes in liability claims, found that a fatality of mother or infant was present in almost one-fourth of the claims. The study also found claims against infants were much more prevalent compared to claims of injury against the mother.

Of injuries to infants, the researchers report the following three categories were most common:

  • Brain damage. Infants born with brain damage can require extensive medical care as they age. Parents raising a child that suffers a birth injury of this type can face millions of dollars in health care costs over the child's lifespan. Unfortunately, such injuries are not uncommon. Researchers report 41 percent of all studied cases involved a neurological or brain injury.
  • Shoulder injury. A neonatal brachial plexus injury can result in long-term damage to the affected shoulder and arm. 37 percent of cases were the result of these types of injuries.
  • Fatality. Either through stillbirth or death shortly after birth. This composed 34 percent of the studied cases.

The researchers call on obstetricians to increase communication with patients and increased fetal monitoring training to help reduce the instances of severe birth injuries.  

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